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University of Tartu Requests Financial Help for Refugee Ukrainian Students

Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the University of Tartu (UT) established a scholarship fund to support refugee Ukrainian students’ studies at UT. These donations and scholarships are administered by the University of Tartu Foundation.

Despite numerous and varied initiatives, the funds accumulated in the scholarship fund are falling significantly short of the money required. At this time, a shortfall of approximately 50,000 (~$75,000 CDN) is projected for the fall semester. At 2000 per student, this represents support for some 25 students for the current semester. The University is searching all avenues for support, including from the Estonian diaspora abroad.

Several Estonian organizations in both Canada and the United States will contribute to this initiative but additional donations are not only welcome but necessary. Donations in Canada can be made through the University of Tartu Fund and those in the United States through the Estonian American Fund. Both of these charities can issue donors with official receipts for income tax purposes (see below for details as to how to donate.)

In addition to 123 Ukrainian citizens previously enrolled at UT, the University has pledged to admit up to 250 additional Ukrainian refugee students for this academic year. By the application deadline of 1 June, the University had received more than 350 applications from Ukrainian student candidates.

In making this pledge, the University has taken on a significant financial commitment. The Estonian government for its part has committed to cover the tuition and language course fees of up to €2500 for each student per semester. The University has agreed with the State that €500 of this amount will be allocated to cover the first month’s living costs for new university entrants. However, it is also vital to support studentsliving expenses for a longer period. Their parents who have stayed in Ukraine or are starting a new life abroad as refugees will find it difficult, if not impossible, to support their children attending University.

As Ukrainian students are exempt from tuition fees, the scholarships distributed by the Fund would be primarily directed to support students’ living expenses. As the average cost of living per student is approximately €400 per month, it will cost €1 million to cover the living costs of Ukrainian refugee students for this academic year. However, the number of scholarships and their value will be limited by the total amount of donations received by the Fund. Both Ukrainian undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply for these scholarships.

The first scholarship application round for the spring semester of 2022 was open until 15 March. Scholarships amounting to €47,700 were granted to 32 students. Scholarships of €1100 to €1600 were awarded, and the recipients used the money at their own discretion and according to their needs. Applications for the next round of scholarships began on 1 September, with funding to successful applicants to be allocated by the end of October.

Providing the opportunity for young Ukrainians to continue their education at the University of Tartu is also a cost-effective way of contributing to the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. The cost of a top-level university education in Estonia is significantly lower when compared to the USA, UK, Canada, Australia or Scandinavian countries. Overall living costs are much more affordable in Estonia than in Western Europe and North America.

The education of Ukrainian students must continue despite the tragedy and the related economic hardship that their homeland and families have suffered. The University appeals to all people sympathetic to higher education in the Estonian diaspora to support Ukrainian refugee students in their time of need.

If you are able to donate, please indicate that your donation is to be directed to the Ukrainian Scholarship Fund, Tartu.

Donations in Canada can be made through the University of Tartu Fund, a registered Canadian charity, specifically established to provide support to the University of Tartu. Tax receipts will be issued for all donations of $25 or more. Please make your e-transfer to tartuulikoolifond@gmail.com or mail your cheques to:

University of Tartu Fund

c/o 42 Humbercrest Blvd.,

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

M6S 4K8

Donations in the USA can be made through the Estonian America Fund, a registered 501 (C)(3) charity established to support activities in Estonia to improve the lives of Estonians in Estonia. Please make your cheques payable to:

Estonian American Fund

P.O. Box 2464

Rockville, MD 20852-9998

OR you can donate directly to the scholarship by making a donation online via ut.ee/donateor by scanning the QR code below which opens the payment page.

Estonia has accepted in excess of 55,000 Ukrainian refugees. Supporting refugee students at the university is entirely consistent with the moral obligation to support Ukrainian refugees suffering from Russian aggression. 

Please donate today and please share this request to help Ukrainian refugee students and higher education with your friends and colleagues.

Peeter Einola, on behalf of the University of Tartu Foundation

Testimonials from Ukrainian students in Tartu:

I am a student of the business administration program at the University of Tartu. In the spring, the university provided me with a scholarship, which just insanely helped me and our family, in terms of finances. My father lost the business and couldn’t finance me. I lived on this scholarship for a large amount of time. Thank you for supporting the Ukrainians in such a difficult time.

“… I sincerely appreciate the financial aid which you provided. It was rapid and conspicuous support for my studying and for my family generally. Since my mother has lost a stable job in Ukraine, the scholarship played a role as a financial cushion. ….”

“…. my parents could not support me at all after the full-scale war started, having granted a scholarship helped me to allocate money between the spring and summer months so I could keep living my life.”

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