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University of Silesia in Katowice

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University of Silesia for Ukraine – summary of activities

04.04.2022 - 12:59 update 07.04.2022 - 13:10
Editors: OO

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the community of the University of Silesia has been helping our friends from Ukraine in various ways. At the moment, the University hosts a total of almost 700 people from Ukraine – 400 students who studied with us before the war and over 392 people who has taken a refuge here. So far, several hundred thousand PLN have been collected as part of financial collections. We also conduct a charity collection of donations, including clothes, cleaning products and food which we then donate to our students from Ukraine and their families.

Our academic community has undertaken many activities that contributed to the development of solutions giving a chance for a safe life in our region.

On the first day of the war, the Rector of the University of Silesia in Katowice appointed a Plenipotentiary for Aid for Ukraine – Sylwia Ledwoch (e-mail: pomagam@us.edu.pl). She helped to organise the communication with the families of students and employees from Ukraine, as well organised their safe trip to Poland, accommodation, finding a job and starting studies.

You can contact our Plenipotentiary and report both the need for help, and support initiatives, including the willingness to individually engage in help.

Additionally, we have also prepared system support for studying and working people from Ukraine regarding education, legal advice, health and psychological advice, as well as support in finding a job or a place to live.

Ukrainian citizens at the University of Silesia

Student residence halls

People who wanted to change their place of residence and accommodate in the student residence hall (dormitory) could submit an application at the dean’s office, while all residents from Ukraine were exempted from the fee for a room in the dormitory in March.

The University of Silesia welcomes Ukrainian citizens, providing them with a place to stay, as well as the most necessary hygiene products, clothes and food. More than 400 students from Ukraine study at the University of Silesia, and we have helped another 392 Ukrainians in a comprehensive manner, welcoming them to student residence halls and providing basic necessities.

The university earmarked funds for the renovation, equipment, and adaptation of  rooms in the teacher residence halls on academic estates. In addition, the employees of academic estates have established cooperation with external companies and organisations (bakeries, foundations, gastronomic points), thanks to which it is possible to deliver food products – it is an additional source of help.

In addition, we accepted 29 international students in our student residence halls as part of transit, which means that we provided accommodation and basic necessities to people who were in Ukraine and, fleeing the conflict, found refuge in Poland before continuing their journey to their countries. We provided medical care, food and the most necessary hygiene products to all of our guests.

Studies and work at the University of Silesia

Already in the first days of the war in Ukraine, we extended the examination session for students from Ukraine, made it possible to participate in classes remotely, and we planned the possibility of making up for the summer semester classes at a convenient time. In the summer semester of 2021/2022, we waived the payment for studies for out students from Ukraine. It is also possible to grant short-term leaves in order to resolve formal situations. As part of the scholarship fund, until 28 March 2022, allowances for students from Ukraine were paid in the amount of PLN 306,000 (206 allowances out of 206 applications submitted). As part of the charity fundraiser, 13 submitted applications have been paid to date: 7 allowances in the total amount of PLN 10,500.

It is possible for students from Ukraine to study at the University of Silesia on the basis of art. 45 of the Act of 12 March 2022. Each person who is admitted in accordance with the regulations to the University of Silesia also continues to maintain the student status of their home university in Ukraine.

We approach each situation individually to meet the needs of the people in need as much as possible. All interested people who wish to be admitted to the same or a similar degree pogramme at the University of Silesia are kindly asked to fill in the form available at: formularze.us.edu.pl/form/index/2973. We contact all the people who fill in the form and help in completing all formalities.

The University of Silesia also submits an application to NAWA in response to the “in solidarity with Ukraine” competition, where a grant enabling Ukrainian students to continue their education at the University of Silesia or participate in Polish language courses can be received.

The University of Silesia also offers job for researchers from Ukraine. Since 24 February 2022, employment-related assistance has been provided to 7 people from Ukraine. The assistance consisted in providing information, indicating the appropriate documents, mediating contacts, written translation and interpreting – in accordance with the needs of interested people.

The University of Silesia has submitted 5 applications to the National Science Centre under the programme FOR RESEARCHERS FROM UKRAINE TO CONTINUE RESEARCH IN POLAND. As part of the programme, it is possible to obtain funds for the employment of scientists from Ukraine who left their country as a result of the war, and who before the outbreak of the war worked in a scientific unit in Ukraine and have at least a doctor’s degree or equivalent qualifications.

To meet the needs of all members of our community, we held two meetings: On 25 February 2022 with students from Ukraine, and on 28 February 2022 with students from Russia. During the meetings, the university authorities and the student government have asked whether students felt safe at the university and what they needed most.

Additionally, all directors of faculties are in direct contact with the students, offering them constant support.

Fundraisers and charity collections

An important part of the aid for Ukrainians at the University of Silesia is providing the necessary means of living. For this purpose, we conduct a financial fundraiser and charity material collection, in which all members of the academic community and people not related to the university are involved.

Already in the first week of the war in Ukraine, the University of Silesia created an official fundraiser to help Ukraine: zrzutka.pl/k8n5fy.

Up till now, we have managed to collect over PLN 121,000 through the website rzutka.pl, and over PLN 48,000 on the occasion of organised charity concerts, which gives the result of over PLN 166,000!

In accordance with the Rules and Regulations on the disposal of funds from the fundraiser, these funds may be spent, inter alia, for the payment of allowances, securing the social and living needs of Ukrainian citizens, financing medical care, covering the costs of necessary maintenance of people living in the University’s housing resources, providing food and transport.

Over PLN 200,000 for medical support for a hospital in Khmelnytsky in Ukraine was collected during a joint charity collection organised by the Hospital in Czeladź, the University of Silesia in Katowice, and the Hospital in Zawiercie. The money was allocated to the purchase of medical devices and first aid supplies.

University of Silesia, knowing how important is to provide the necessary material resources such as basic hygiene products or food, conducts a material collection in which all members of the academic community (and not only) are involved.

The collection is organised at the Rectorate of the University of Silesia in Katowice at ul. Bankowa 12, and it is also possible to leave donations in the buildings of faculties and on academic estates at designated points. Collected things are sorted and stored in an empty university pool basin.

International actions

On the first day of the war in Ukraine, the Rector of the University of Silesia in Katowice sent a message to scientists from partner universities in Ukraine, in which he expressed his opposition and anxiety over the invasion, as well as full solidarity with the Ukrainian nation. The Rector also assured that the University of Silesia will make every effort to maintain cooperation between universities, and offered possible help.

The University of Silesia also contacted the United States, reporting to “The Guardian” its willingness to accept refugee students from Suma.

In addition, the Senate of the University of Silesia adopted a resolution on expressing solidarity with Ukraine and condemning Russia’s aggression, which was reported to all partner universities in Russia.

Aid actions

From the beginning of our aid activities, we encouraged all members of the academic community to join in disintersted help for people affected by the war in Ukraine. Through the form created by the student government, 280 people volunteered to help, including hosting people in dormitories, securing basic personal items, in the segregation of the donations brought, promoting forms of assistance or organising integration activities in our community.

In addition, our Ukrainian-speaking students helped at information points at the railway station, reception desk, the Silesian Museum, the Daycare Nursing Home, the Association for People with Disabilities SPES, as well as in hospitals.

At the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Silesia, the “Adaptation Incubator” initiative was established in order to help newcomers in a long-term way, using the substantive knowledge of the faculty’s employees. As part of the initiative, volunteers will be prepared to provide help. What is more, workshops will be prepared for people who host refugees at their homes. Anyone interested in volunteering, both as family assistants and teaching supporters, can apply via a form.

We have also prepared a form for our graduates, in which we asked for contact details in order to be able to inform about initiatives taken for the benefit of Ukrainian citizens and to engage graduates in such activities.

Many families have come to the dormitories of our University who need help and constant contact with the University. However, finding out about the support possibilities offered at the University and in a given city is not easy, and requires proper guidance. With the most effective help in mind, we have created a support council, whose tasks are related to direct care and contact with people who have fled from Ukraine.

The council provides support and necessary information after accommodation, and provides basic needs, as well as support in the process of adaptation, getting to know the place of accommodation, informs about the forms of support offered by the university and local institutions.

The first meeting of people who declared their willingness to provide assistance to refugees living in students residence hall has been already held. The first meeting of the support council was attended by employees, students and doctoral students who will then participate in training in effective help for people in crisis.

We have expanded the availability of psychological support for all the affected by the conflict within our academic community and their families. Students, PhD students, employees from Ukraine, and their families can report their need for counselling to pomoc.psychologiczna@us.edu.pl.

Employees of the Institute of Psychology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Student and PhD Student Ombudsperson, as well as psychologists from the Student Service Centre are engaged in providing psychological help to the victims. Individual psychologists associated with the University have expressed their willingness to help as well.

Apart from meetings with psychologists and psychotherapists working at the University, students of the University of Silesia in Katowice and their families affected by the war in Ukraine may also use free counselling in Ukrainian and English.

The University carries out training sessions on ACT model of crisis intervention for our employees. Within the training sessions, the participants acquire basic knowledge of crisis situations, conceptualising of crisis situations, shaping an intervener’s open attitude, and skills of working in the face of crisis.

Students, PhD students, and employees from Ukraine as well as their families from Ukraine who are in need of legal counselling on, e.g. the question of the status, permit for work or any other issue requiring a formal solution can report to the Plenipotentiary of the Rector for Aid for Ukraine via e-mail to pomoc.prawna@us.edu.pl.

Employees of the Faculty of Law and Administration, the Student and PhD Student Ombudsperson, the Regional Bar Association, and Student Legal Clinic have declared their willingness to provide legal help.

Every Wednesday and Friday at 6.30–8 p.m., employees and students of the Faculty of Law and Administration carry out office hours via the MS Teams for all people in need of legal help due to the war in Ukraine.

In cooperation with the Regional Labour Inspectorate, we provide help in finding jobs or paid internships for students and members of their families who would want to take up employment in Poland due to the war in Ukraine. We try to find good places to work, we help with preparing the documents, and interviews with potential employers.

The Career Office works actively as an agent between the Ukrainians and employers. For that purpose, we have established two report points: one for job seekers, and the other for employers to submit their job offers under the slogan “In solidarity with Ukraine. Give a job!”

So far we have received 198 job offers:

  • 85 offers without a requirement for Polish proficiency;
  • 13 offers without a requirement for Polish and English proficiency;

we have reported 50 people seeking employment, 17 people got jobs; 24 people remain under our care – they were offered a job, and we wait for feedback on whether they managed to find employment; 5 people were redirected under the care of other units (due to their medical profession or work in the character of a scientific employee) to the HR Department or the Medical University of Silesia (in the mutual agreement with their Career Office and the reporting people).

If you know any friendly workplace that is willing to recruit people from Ukraine, please inform us along with contact details to a certain individual via e-mail to pomagam@us.edu.pl; people who seek employment can fill out a dedicated form.

The School of Polish Language and Culture has offered a wide array of courses preparing for studies and life in Poland. The Ukrainians will have an opportunity to take part in free courses in the Polish language (over 500 places), free courses for students from Ukraine planning to study in Poland (30 places), as well as workshops and webinars for teachers – about textbooks, methods, and techniques on teaching foreigners.

Additionally, they conduct online classes in basic Ukrainian for people outside the University of Silesia; moreover, they have launched a virtual reading-recreation room for kids.

Experts of the Ukrainian language from the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Silesia in Katowice prepared Ukrainian-Polish and Polish-Ukrainian phrasebook, which are to facilitate mutual communication for Polish students and lecturers, as well as refugees from Ukraine.

The phrasebook is the result of a linguistic consultation of Monika Gawlak, PhD, and Lidia Mięsowska, PhD, Associate Professor, Anna Tyka, MA and Martyna Muratvyska, BA.

Phrasebook is available on the ISSUU platform.

People might also be interested in help from our translators and interpreters employed at the University of Silesia.

The Student Government, the Doctoral Student Government, and the Student Legal Clinic at the Faculty of Law and Administration are at your disposal and declare any help in matters related to studying and residing in Poland. Every campus of the University of Silesia has an appointed coordinator. Moreover, the Student Government has created a form for students and PhD students where they can report their willingness to help and specify their possibilities within the scope.

All university campuses have appointed coordinators who remain available for the residents and constantly react to the reported problems and needs. Moreover, members of the Student Government organised meetings with students living in dormitories to meet people and spend this hard time in students company.

The university helps all students from Ukraine and their families in obtaining medical aid in appropriate medical units.

The University cooperates directly with the hospital in Czeladź and Medical University of Silesia in Katowice to obtain medical support as quickly as possible.

The University actively and effectively cooperates with educational institutions, organising admission of children and adolescents to kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, as well as organising additional (extracurricular) activities. We try to admit children and young people to schools and other educational places which are the closest to their new place of residence and adapt them to individual skills and interests.

Every Sunday after Holy Mass at 8 p.m. (around 9 p.m.) The Academic Chaplaincy Centre at ul. Powstańców 21 in Katowice waits for students who want to talk, speak out and meet their peers.

The academic priest is available for students who would like to talk to him on the phone or arrange a meeting.

The University of Silesia has launched the website “In solidarity with Ukraine”, which provides access to information for people who have been affected by the war in Ukraine, and collects information on the possibility of organising comprehensive aid for Ukraine and people who had to leave their country due to the Russian aggression and will be guests of the University of Silesia in Katowice.

The website contains information on the principles of support and its provision to people affected by the war in Ukraine, as well as information on ensuring appropriate conditions and support for people who, due to leaving Ukraine, became guests of the University of Silesia in Katowice.   Additionally, we keep an inventory of amenities offered by external companies for refugees from Ukraine.

Charity events

Students of the International Studies in Political Science and Diplomacy at the University of Silesia have organised a charity concert “UŚ Students for Ukraine” during which a cake fair and auction took place. The collected amount – PLN 21,728 will contribute to the collection for the needs of students from Ukraine and their families, conducted on the website zrzutka.pl.

The event included the performances of the children’s choir, students of the Complex of Silesian International Schools in Katowice and students of the University of Silesia.

At the end of the concert, a moving speech was delivered by a student of the University of Silesia, Solomiia Mykytsei, calling for support for Ukraine, which fights for freedom and peace.

The charity concert “City of Science for Ukraine” took place on 25 March 2022 on the rooftop of the Faculty of Humanities and was carried out by 7 public universities of the European City of Science Katowice 2024.

During the event, we collected over PLN 26,500. This amount will be used to cover the needs of Ukrainian students, doctoral students and employees and their families.

During the event, a marked car was also filled with hygiene products and food, which would then go to students, doctoral students and employees from Ukraine and their families.

The culminating point of the financial collection was the charity auction organised in the A. Pawlikowski lecture hall at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Silesia, during which the guests auctioned off and presented subjects which were donated, among others, by rectors of universities of the consortium of the European City of Science Katowice 2024. Fourteen-year-old musician Yevhenii Cheslavskyi – Ukraine’s record holder in playing the most instruments in his age group – performed before the auction, while the auction was followed by a special concert in the darkness of the blind artist Kaja Kosowska.

During the “City of Science for Ukraine” concert, several hundred participants listened to concerts of student and employee bands, took part in talks about the war and its possible consequences, participated  the workshops and used support we offered, and the youngest participated in integration for children and adults as well as in quizzes and competitions about Silesian culture, costumes, symbols and curiosities. In the evening, the band Dagadana performed on the roof of the Faculty of Humanities.

On the main stage a debate “What’s next?” took place in which participated Prof. Yuliany Palagnyuk, Rafała Cekiera, PhD,  Marek Migalski, PhD, DLitt, Associate Professor, Łukasz Jach, PhD, Małgorzata Myl, PhD, and Prof. Tadeusz Sławek. During the debate, the issues of challenges related to the presence of refugees in Poland as well as responsible and effective assistance were discussed.

People who wanted to deepen their knowledge of the war had the opportunity to participate in talks with scientists at the so-called Ukraine Station. Participants talked, inter alia, about the basics of Russia’s imperial thinking, about how to help while caring for one’s own psychological well-being, about the emotional consequences of people affected by the war in Ukraine, and about how to prevent and heal war trauma.

flaga Ukrainy/Ukrainian flag blowing in the wind

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