Just asking

Support for Ukraine

DAAD President Professor Joybrato Mukherjee on the historical responsibility for Ukraine and the commitment to free academic exchange.

Issue 1 | 2022

As terrible as the present war in Ukraine is, it is also a struggle about history. The illegal Russian attack is based, among other things, on a disastrous misinterpretation of history. The war aims propagated by the Kremlin range from the expulsion of alleged Nazis to a return to former Soviet greatness. In the process, however, the historically established independence of Ukraine is ignored. This war in Europe warns us of how important it is to keep a watchful eye on the course of history. From the Western European perspective we long saw the “post-Soviet space” too much as a single unit and often unnecessarily limited our view to Russia.

Following the Russian attack, the DAAD made immediately and unambiguously clear that its solidarity is with Ukraine. We are standing by the Ukrainians with numerous concrete measures to enable them to maintain academic exchange and perspectives in spite of war and expulsion.

“The course of history demands our engagement: we want to provide it for the future of a free Ukraine and free research.”

Even in the face of catastrophic circumstances it remains the duty of science to support an open-minded, analytical view. In March the DAAD Competence Centre for International Academic ­Cooperation organised a policy discussion on the subject “Science Diplomacy in Wartime: What is to be done for Ukraine, how to proceed with Belarus and Russia?”. We are not losing sight of Belarus and Russia, but are putting our hopes on the power of science and civil society in both countries, even if the level of exchange before the war is inconceivable at present.

We want to offer support to those who ­especially need it at this time. The DAAD has expanded the Hilde Domin Programme explicitly for students who have fled from Ukraine and Russia. We are making the programme, which was first launched in 2017, more flexible to support the ­internationalisation of Ukrainian universities so that Ukrainian refugees can benefit from existing projects.

“We want to offer ­support to those who especially need it at this time.”

We are supporting German universities in cooper­ation with Ukrainian partner organisations through the new BMBF-funded programme line Ukraine ­digital: Studienerfolg in Krisenzeiten sichern in order to offer digital courses that give students and researchers in and from Ukraine the prospect of continuing their academic careers. We have set up the National Academic Contact Point Ukraine to provide advice and guidance for Ukrainian students and researchers. Furthermore, the Integra programme is being expanded to allow the integration of suitably qualified international refugees from Ukraine into higher education courses. The course of history ­demands our engagement: we want to provide it for the future of a free Ukraine and free research. —