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MU scholarships help Ukrainian students

How do Masaryk University scholarships help Ukrainian students deal with their difficult situation? Six of them have told M Magazine about their experience.

Dariia Shyriaieva, PhD student at the Faculty of Science.

A special admission procedure is currently open at Masaryk University with places for up to 1,000 students from Ukraine, who can apply for individual study programmes until 31 May. In addition, however, Masaryk University also offers financial support to 33 current students from Ukraine who found themselves in a difficult situation when the war started. Some of them agreed to share their stories and describe how crucial MU’s assistance has been for them.

Artem Bolotov, Master’s student, Faculty of Economics and Administration

The war has affected each Ukrainian family and mine was no exception – my mother, younger brother and cousin fled to Brno in March and I had to take care of them. The town I come from has been shelled several times, my friends are fighting in the army against the occupiers and many of my friends are struggling with mental and often physical problems as well. It is terrifying.

I had heard about the MU scholarship offer from other students and under normal circumstances, I would not have applied, but unfortunately, the situation forced me to do so. Last year was already quite challenging for me financially due to my Erasmus stay in Milan and the rising inflation, which made living in Brno much more expensive, but the war with the resulting need to take care of my family and arrange decent housing for them meant I exhausted all my savings.

I am really very thankful to the university for helping Ukrainian students and their families. We Ukrainians are extremely grateful for all the support we receive from others in these hard times and I am very proud that Masaryk University, my university of choice, is helping as much as it can.

Andrii Samoilenko, Bachelor’s student, Faculty of Economics and Administration

I started studying economics in my first year at Masaryk University in September. I could afford my studies mainly thanks to my parents who supported me. However, they lost their jobs in March due to the invasion, and now they can't even send me any money because the Ukrainian government adopted certain measures against capital flight. Therefore, in this difficult situation, I applied for a scholarship from Masaryk University; otherwise, I couldn’t have continued my studies.

I am very grateful to the University and to the Czech Republic for all the help they provide to Ukraine. My family has had a difficult time. My mother and girlfriend moved to Brno because of the war and I had a lot of arrangements to make for their arrival, with all the associated worries and stress. However, thanks to the financial contributions from MU and the Czech government, I don’t have to worry so much about not having anything to live on now, so I can again focus more on my studies.

Lidiia Andriichuk, Bachelor’s student, Faculty of Arts

Although I come from western Ukraine, the war has affected my relatives too – I grew up in a military family and my dad has been in the army all his life, so he is now actively involved in the defence. In order to alleviate my parents’ difficult situation, I applied for the MU scholarship, which covers all the expenses my parents used to help me with, especially accommodation, for which I wasn’t able to earn enough money through my part-time job here.

I’m very happy that Masaryk University offered me a helping hand and that I didn’t have to look for a second job. I can continue with my studies, which I truly enjoy. This is my fifth year living in Czechia and I have wanted to study at this university since my first year here. I’m very happy that it worked out – thanks to my studies I’ve already done an internship at the Moravian Gallery and started working in the field. I am very grateful to MU for everything it does for us Ukrainians.

Illia Kostenko, Master’s student, Faculty of Informatics

The war in Ukraine started in a very uneasy way for me. My mother called me at four o'clock in the morning on 24 February, saying that our hometown of Kharkiv was being shelled. Since the first day of the war, my mother, grandmother and grandfather have been hiding in the basement. After ten days, when a missile completely destroyed the apartment block next to theirs and they started having problems with electricity and heating, they were, fortunately, able to evacuate. Now they are refugees in the Czech Republic.

They could bring absolutely nothing with them to Brno, so I helped them with everything and bought the basic necessities, helped them find and pay for accommodation and so on. Those were very stressful weeks when I suddenly found myself completely without money, and I am very grateful that Masaryk University helped me financially to deal with this difficult situation. It would have been hard for me to manage everything on my own without the scholarship.

Oleksandra Bezsmertna, exchange student, Faculty of Science

I can’t imagine what I would have done if I hadn’t received the scholarship from Masaryk University. The war came unexpectedly into my life and the life of my whole family, who had to quickly flee to other regions of Ukraine or abroad.

My parents are currently in Poland and they lost their jobs because of the war, so I had serious trouble paying my dormitory fees here in Brno. I wouldn’t have had any money left for food or summer clothing, for example, because I planned to bring it with me in March when I wanted to visit my family in Ukraine. But then the war started.

I have no idea when I will see my parents again or when I will be able to return home. I had come to Brno as an exchange student for five months and was due to return in June. Now I don’t know when it will be possible, it still isn’t safe there. But we are very lucky that our house in Kyiv is still standing and that we have somewhere to go back to.

I really wish it would all be over already, the war is the only thing on my mind 24 hours a day right now. Even when I try to go out and relax, I can only manage to avoid checking the news for a couple of hours. It’s very hard for me to concentrate on my studies, especially when I have to work on presentations and projects. But I am still extremely grateful that I have a place to stay over the summer and that I am safe. I really appreciate everyone’s help, I didn’t expect it.

Dariia Shyriaieva, PhD student at the Faculty of Science

This February, I was supposed to return to my home university in Kyiv after a year-long PhD internship at the Faculty of Science of Masaryk University. However, just a few days before my scheduled departure, Russia attacked Ukraine and everything went crazy. The first few days after the invasion I was completely stunned and didn’t know what to do, so my MU supervisor suggested that I stay in Brno and apply for an MU scholarship to continue my research until the situation improved.

During February and March, I was not really able to organise my life and get an income, but luckily my Czech colleagues and friends helped me with everything, for which I am extremely grateful. The scholarship helped me to cover the costs of my stay in Brno, and it also allowed me to support my aunt with her child who fled to Brno and are now staying here with me. I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to join Masaryk University in these dark times, and I really appreciate all the help and support MU provides to Ukrainians.

MUNI HELPS UKRAINE. You can support Ukrainian students and academics through aid earmarked for educational and humanitarian purposes. Over 830 donors contributed a total of CZK 1.3 million in financial assistance to Ukraine as of the end of April. You can also contribute in the form of a financial donation through the MU Shopping Centre.