Our response to the Ukraine crisis: An update from the Vice-Chancellor

Published 4 March 2022

The conflict in Ukraine remains deeply troubling for us all, and the Keele community stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and all those who condemn the actions of the Russian government in its invasion, for which there is no justification.

This is a distressing time, which evokes a sense of anger and frustration, and I am sure that the film footage of university buildings on fire in Ukraine had a particular resonance, with members of the global academic community being attacked. I have been humbled by how our students and staff have come together to support each other.

If you are worried or have been affected, please visit keele.ac.uk/ukraine to view the support available to you. Our multi-faith Chaplaincy team form part of this support to staff and students of all faiths and none.

We are working closely with other institutions in the UK higher education sector to coordinate our response. We are much stronger working together through collective and coordinated action than acting on our own. I have met with Vice Chancellors and heads of institutions today at a meeting of Universities UK (UUK). UUK are working with the Home Office, Department for Education, and others in UK Government. UUK issued a statement and response yesterday outlining our approach. Being part of a co-ordinated sector action provides the most influential way for Keele to lobby government and to ensure our continuing response, in both the immediate and longer term, is co-ordinated and informed via engagement and guidance from national and international agencies and organisations, including those in Ukraine.

We have reviewed our engagement with Russian organisations, and we have no substantive ties. We will continue to support exchanges between Keele staff and students with individual academics around the world including those in, and from, Russia and those staff and students who are part of the Keele community.

We have contacted and reaffirmed our long-standing support for the Council for At Risk Academics (CARA), who provide help to academics in immediate danger, those forced into exile, and those who choose to work in their home countries despite serious risks.

JISC are providing advice and guidance to universities and their staff and students on the increased risk of cyber attacks.

I would like to pay tribute to the passionate and rapid response of our student and staff community to the crisis. Keele Students’ Union and Keele Postgraduate Association have collected charitable donations to support refugees of the crisis. We also encourage donations to the Ukraine Crisis appeal run by the Disasters Emergency Committee. By donating to this appeal, items can be bought in collaboration with Ukrainian authorities in locations of need: www.dec.org.uk. In addition, Unicef, The Red Cross, UN Refugees, and United Help Ukraine are also helping those in need.

As we try to understand the ramifications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some of our own Keele colleagues are sharing their expertise: Dr Matthew Wyman, Senior Lecturer in Politics, has spoken to LBC, Radio 5 Live, France 24, TRT World and BBC Radio Stoke to provide background to the conflict, and Professor Samir Dani, Professor of Operations Management and Deputy Director of Keele Business School, has spoken to Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Stoke about the economic impact of the invasion. By sharing our expertise with the general public, we can help to combat fake news and disinformation.

As a show of solidarity with those affected, I have also asked that we light the Forest of Lights in Union Square in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag.

With all best wishes,

Professor Trevor McMillan