Statement from Vice-Chancellor Professor Simone Buitendijk on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

This is an update on our response to the abhorrent wave of violence unleashed by the Russian government through its invasion of Ukraine. 

This unprovoked act of war goes against everything that a humane, civilised and democratic society stands for and therefore, by extension, everything that this University stands for. In common with many thousands across our community, I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. 

It is essential that we continue to be guided by our values at this time, recognising that there will be many parts of our internal and broader community that will be affected by the appalling actions of the Putin regime, both directly and indirectly, and that they need our support. 

In terms of specific steps we are taking in response, these include: 

  • Reviewing our financial commitment to the Council for At Risk Academics (Cara), with a view to increasing it, so that we can support its essential work helping academics and their families who are at risk as a result of the invasion. 
  • Identifying and reviewing on a case-by-case basis collaborations with Russian counterparts, and following evolving government and Universities UK (UUK) guidance. At this time UUK is not supporting the application of blanket academic boycotts that prevent academics collaborating with peers as a means of protest against the actions of their governments. This is a fast-moving situation and we will watch this closely. 
  • Taking steps to ensure the University is supporting the package of sanctions currently being imposed against Russia and relevant targets. This may have implications for our operations, which we are urgently assessing, but we are unwavering in our support for their use. 
  • Offering UK immigration and visa support to colleagues who are affected by the invasion via the HR International Team. 

Leeds University Union (LUU) is arranging a vigil in the University Precinct at 5pm on Friday 11 March. All are invited and I would encourage you to attend if you are able. 

Finally, as already noted, these events will touch a wide array of people in many different ways. First and foremost, we must lend our support to students, colleagues and friends who have loved ones directly caught up in the invasion – the majority of which of course, will be Ukrainians. 

But we must also be mindful of the impact on Russian staff and students, many of whom oppose this conflict, and will be sharing our outrage at these events. 

We are a diverse and tolerant community that welcomes people from all over the globe and supports them to reach their potential and make an impact on the world. That approach has served us well for more than a century and will continue to do so in the difficult days, weeks and months ahead. 

Professor Simone Buitendijk 
Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds