University Statement on Ukraine

Wednesday 09 March 2022

Professor Steve Olivier, Principal RGU
The invasion of Ukraine and the continuing conflict are profoundly troubling. While there are consequences for organisations, including universities, the deepest immediate effects, are felt by people whose lives have been powerfully and sometimes permanently altered.

Among those, are our staff and students from Ukraine, Russia, and neighbouring countries. My thoughts, and those of our University community are with those, whoever they might be, who have been affected by the war.

The University has responded to the situation in several ways. Our immediate priority has been to engage with our cohort of Ukrainian students and staff so that they have access to practical advice, wellbeing services and support. We have also reached out to our Russian and Belarusian staff and students. The University has launched an Emergency Financial Support Fund which any student, who is affected by the crisis, can apply to.

I also want to take this opportunity to iterate that all our support services, including access to trained counsellors and wellbeing staff, are available to all of our students, regardless of their location or mode of study. These can be accessed from RGU’s Counselling and Support Service.

RGU is a member of the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA). As news of the invasion broke, I called the Chief executive of that organisation and offered further support in the form of involvement in the Fellowship programme.

The University has been reviewing its investment portfolio in the light of the conflict. We have no direct investments in Russia. A very small proportion of our fund-managed investments include Russian-related equities. These equity holdings have been decreased and the fund managers are in the process of disposing of them entirely. 

With regard to the general heightened security risks, in response to advice issued by the National Cyber Security Centre and Jisc, IT Services have identified additional steps to help strengthen our position and they have been implementing a range of measures. It remains important to be vigilant when replying to email, and to report any suspicious emails.

While recognising the horrific nature of the current circumstances, I’m immensely proud of the initiatives and activities led by our staff and students. This includes the RGU Union collecting goods and financial donations from staff and students for sending on to Ukraine. Gray’s School of Art has organised an online panel discussion on the crisis and its effects on people, places and culture, and it is also hosting an online exhibition where the artwork will be offered for sale with the money raised being used to support the Ukrainian people. These examples showcase the role that our University plays in stimulating debate and action on key societal issues. If you have other ideas and suggestions that we might consider, then please do get in touch with Dr Duncan Cockburn, Vice Principal Strategy and Planning, whom I have asked to be the executive lead for issues related to this war.

Steve Olivier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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