In late February I wrote to all members of our university community about the unfolding crisis in Ukraine. Since that message, the conflict and the humanitarian disaster it has created have intensified and I know many students and staff will be deeply worried about the situation.
Our values as one community become most important in turbulent times and I am keen that anyone who needs support from the university feels able to ask for it.
The university has been in contact with people of Ukrainian and Russian nationality in our university community but there will be others with family ties or connections to the region we do not know about; please do use the support structures available, including through the HR department and Student Support Centre.
I recognise there may be concerns we have not yet encountered or fully understood and I would encourage staff and students to contact me directly to highlight any areas of need that are not currently being met.
As the reality of the invasion and the perils the people of Ukraine are facing become clearer, it is important too that I express my condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
There is no contradiction in condemning the invasion while recognising that we have Russian friends and colleagues who are just as appalled by action taken over which they have no influence.
We should not be tempted to go down the path of division: we must instead show solidarity with the people of Ukraine and all those who oppose the invasion, as millions have around the world.
I have seen students, staff and volunteers working across our community to support fund-raising and donations for humanitarian relief. At national level, universities are liaising with the UK government through Universities UK to address policy issues affecting students and staff from Ukraine.
There will be more we can do and I am discussing with colleagues and leaders in the city about arrangements for students and academics who are being forced to leave Ukraine and are able to enter the UK.
It would appear that it is not currently straightforward for refugees to gain visas to enter the UK and this may change in the coming days.
If colleagues or students know of any Ukrainian academics or students seeking refuge who they feel could benefit from the support of the university when they arrive in the UK, please do get in touch with me directly.
Students or staff can donate to the national Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal here.
The Chaplaincy service is also coordinating local donations of food and clothing items for refugees arriving in Poland.
The Students’ Union is holding a gathering of students, staff and members of the community to stand with Ukraine in a show of solidarity from 3pm to 3.15pm on Thursday, March, 10 outside the Engine Shed.