With the beginning of the winter semester next week, Ulm University will also welcome Ukrainian refugees among their student cohort. The platform ConnectUlm is already up and running, offering networking opportunities and support to students from Ukraine. The Welcome Event on Thursday noon was an opportunity for the new arrivals to connect with their fellow local students and to learn about available support offers.
At the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, the International Office received daily enquiries from students in the war-torn areas. More than 50 Ukrainian students have now enrolled in the preparatory programme 'FOKuS', which offers courses teaching German language and culture as well as soft skills, maths and computer literacy. Several of them are now ready to begin their studies at Ulm University. It takes a lot more than just language skills and a higher education entrance qualification, however, to really 'arrive' in the new country. Professor Péter Horváth seems to have remembered this: Shortly before his death, the Hungarian-born controlling expert donated 100,000 euros to Ulm University to set up a welcome programme for Ukrainian students. The platform ConnectUlm has now officially launched.
At the 'Welcome Event', the President of Ulm University, Professor Michael Weber, and the Rector of the Ukrainian Free University (UFU) in Munich, Professor Maria Pryshlak, signed a Memorandum of Understanding. From now on, the two universities want to collaborate in the education of Ukrainian students. Professor Maria Pryshlak emphasised that the study programmes offered by the humanities-oriented UFU and the medical, scientific and technical orientation of Ulm University complement each other perfectly.
The platform ConnectUlm has much more to offer though: Several students from Ulm have already responded to the call to support their Ukrainian fellow students as 'buddies'. The university programme InnoTeach could serve as another door opener with its contacts to regional companies that are looking for employees who speak Ukrainian or Russian. 'With ConnectUlm we are creating a platform that bundles a wide variety of offers on an academic and social level. We want the students from Ukraine to play a part in shaping it from the very beginning,' explains Professor Olga Pollatos, Vice President Education at Ulm University. Opportunities range from cultural exchange to continuing academic education to founding a start-up.
Anastasiia Kyrychenko from Kyiv will start her molecular medicine studies at Ulm University in the winter semester. She was already a guest student at the university in the summer and was able to perfect her German. 'I became aware of ConnectUlm and the Buddy Programme through the International Office. I signed up immediately, and now I'm looking forward to contributing my ideas,' says the student. Anastasiia Kyrychenko can imagine, for example, translating university websites for fellow Ukrainians who do not yet know much German or English.
The donation from the Péter Horváth Foundation will initially go to financing a 50% part-time coordinator position for ConnectUlm. Ukrainians also get the opportunity to take on assistant positions at Ulm University in order to qualify and earn money.
The Welcome Event was an opportunity for the new arrivals to expand their network. The programme included welcome speeches, a standing reception with information desks by the Career Centre, the refugee council Flüchtlingsrat Ulm/Alb-Donau-Kreis e. V. and the School of Humanities, among others, as well as a pub quiz held in English. The student representative body (StuVe) furthermore gave their Ukrainian fellows free tickets to the popular first-semester party.
To contribute to the platform ConnectUlm and/or to find further information, please visit: www.uni-ulm.de/en/misc/connectulm/
About Ukrainian Free University (UFU)
UFU is the only Ukrainian university-in-exile outside Ukraine. It was established in Vienna in 1921 by professors and students of the then University of Kiev who had fled from Kiev to escape the Red Army. After the end of the Second World War, it moved from Prague to Munich in 1945. The university nowadays comprises three departments: The Faculty of Government and Political Economy, the Faculty of Ukrainian Studies, and the Faculty of Philosophy. UFU has been fulfilling its role as an ambassador of Ukrainian culture, among other things, for many years and now acts as a 'bridge' between Germany and democratic Ukraine. Currently, UFU has a large influx of refugee students from Ukraine and goes to great lengths in supporting their education and further development.
Text and mediacontact: Annika Bingmann
Translation: Dani Wittmeier