Britain announces help for Ukrainian 'researchers at risk'

Funds allow 130 academics to move to the UK to collaborate

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British plan would help Ukraine to rebuild. AFP
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Britain has announced a scheme to protect Ukrainian science and research from the war with Russia created to offer residence in the UK to 130 academics.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the project would safeguard Ukrainian know-how needed to rebuild the country, and help the British economy by forging more links in science and tech.

It is one of a series of announcements made by western powers during the three-day G7 summit finishing on Tuesday in Germany, where leaders said they would support Ukraine for “as long as it takes”.

The British government said it would put £9.8 million ($12m) towards fellowships for Ukrainian “researchers at risk”, covering their salaries and contributing to their living costs for up to two years.

There are also plans for more than 100 partnerships between universities in the two countries, with British institutions helping those in Ukraine to teach remotely and hosting staff and students on their campuses.

Dozens of UK universities have signed up. The University of Edinburgh has joined with Kyiv’s Taras Shevchenko National University, the prime minister’s office said.

In addition, the Department for International Trade said it would offer mentoring and connections with British industry to Ukrainian technology entrepreneurs who were forced to leave their country during the war.

Millions have fled Ukraine since the war began in February, with border guards counting more than eight million crossings, including those who have gone back and forth.

The British government has set up two parallel schemes for Ukrainian refugees but has been criticised for making a less generous offer than some of its European neighbours.

Mr Johnson said that “people across the UK have opened their hearts and their homes to support those fleeing violence in Ukraine, and our world-leading universities, research institutions and tech businesses are no different”.

“Science and technology will be decisive in ensuring [Russian President Vladimir] Putin fails in Ukraine, and it will be crucial as we rebuild the Ukrainian economy,” he said.

Ukraine has said that the costs of rebuilding will run into hundreds of billions of dollars and that total war losses could amount to more than $1 trillion.

Mr Johnson also appealed for Russian scientists disillusioned with the Kremlin to consider applying for a British visa, to “work in a country that values openness, freedom and the pursuit of knowledge”.

His office quoted Ukraine’s Education Minister Serhii Skharlet as saying Kyiv “appreciates greatly” the offer to Ukrainian researchers.

“Thanks to the support of the United Kingdom, Ukrainian scientists who were forced to flee abroad due to Russian aggression will be able to continue their research,” Mr Skharlet said.

“I believe that such collaboration will strengthen significantly the co-operation between our countries.”

Updated: June 28, 2022, 7:35 AM