The Impact of the Ukrainian Crisis on Higher Education

Since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, Georgetown has responded in myriad ways. From public prayer sessions to organized support by student clubs, the Georgetown community has expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Katya Sedova, a student from Ukraine currently studying at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS), expressed her faith in Ukrainian solidarity at a Georgetown town hall. “I want you to understand to what extent Ukrainians will resist. It’s not a hashtag. It is a reality for every Ukrainian, wherever they are in the world,” as reported in The Hoya.  

Thousands of international students—both Ukrainian and Russian—at schools across the U.S. continue to reel from the impact of the increasingly global crisis. In addition to expressions of support, institutions of higher education are finding new ways to support individual students who are experiencing mental and financial instability. “Where do you draw the line between holding Russia accountable and students from Russia, who don’t agree with the actions of their home country, accountable?” asks Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Pace University, featured in a March 30 Inside Higher Ed article, is currently home to Viktoriia Yevtushenko, a freshman and one of the thousands of students affected by the war in Ukraine who is living two different realities—one of wartorn Ukraine and the other of peace at Pace’s New York campus. Many students in Yevtushenko’s position, Russian or Ukrainian, suffer an uncertain financial future as well as a disconnection from the larger community.

“What we see is that when students are going through these experiences, they’re very disconnected from their typical support base, and they may not even be in touch with family, because communications may be cut or are very difficult,” notes Pace University President Marvin Krislov.

Some universities, like Pace, are offering group counseling sessions for both Ukrainian and Russian students as they undergo challenges in each of their situations. Furthermore, some financial assistance is being made available to students in the form of grants and some faculty members have also offered support in the form of generosity and kindness for students in need. Similarly, Georgetown is offering counseling services along with other mental health resources to international students who are affected by the war in Ukraine.