Like million refugees leaving Ukraine to escape Russian attacks, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is doing what it can to help a few people caught up in the crisis.
Ukrainian universities have not been spared from Russian attacks. Hundreds of students at Sumy State University, near the Russian border, cannot leave because Russian forces have blocked access to trains, and explosions forced them to seek bomb shelters, according to the New York Times.
International students fleeing Ukraine can apply for a graduate assistantship program at UT Chattanooga to continue their studies despite the war in their home country.
Currently, it is one of the few universities in the country to offer such a supportive program. The idea was a collaborative effort between the college’s Center for Global Education and the Student Government Association.
Do not feed the rats :Here’s how to find strong relief charities in Ukraine
“I envisioned this as a learning opportunity, not just for them, but also for us. Meeting people from around the world or from another side of the world is amazing,” said Delali Gadzekpo, President of Student Government Association. “I can’t imagine our community won’t be better for all the experiences, perspectives and opinions it has to offer.”
UT Knoxville has secured funding to support students and faculty fleeing war, according to deputy director of news and information Kerry Gardner, and programs and resources are being developed.
UT Chattanooga is offering two international students a fully supported graduate assistantship. the program provides two selected students with paid tuition, free housing, and a monthly stipend of $600. It pays for round-trip tickets to and from Chattanooga.
“We really want these two students to build a bridge, not just between Ukraine and Chattanooga, but to help Chattanooga and Tennessee and understand the global vision and reach,” said Takeo Suzuki, executive director of the Center for Global Education, in an interview. with Knox News.
Students pursuing a graduate degree in public administration, business administration, computer science, or engineering management are eligible to apply. The assistantship lasts from this fall until May 2024.
The two-year program is intentional. Suzuki hopes this will allow students to make immediate improvements in Ukraine after graduation.
“We didn’t want to wait four years for them to come home and start rebuilding the country,” Suzuki said. “That’s one of the reasons we’re doing these two masters.”
The university is financially limited in the number of students it can bring in, but one student just didn’t feel like enough for Suzuki.
“We wanted to do 200 or 300! But financially we’re such a small institution,” Suzuki said.
Conversations to bring in war-affected faculty are also underway, but nothing is finalized, Suzuki said.
UT Chattanooga is a college on a slow-growing list providing funding for war-affected international students.
“I wish every school could do this. It’s such a cool opportunity…because it equips these individuals in a way that they can, if they want to, bring home and hope to rebuild again,” said said Gadzekpo.