In response to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Europe and beyond as a result of the war in Ukraine, our colleagues at Leiden University call on the institution to create Leiden University in Exile. As a first concrete step, we call upon Leiden University to provide 1000 tuition-free and partially funded positions for refugee students and researchers. 1.5 million Ukrainians have already fled, as have countless Russians, and other nationals. An already forgotten Afghan exodus is also unfolding. The University has short-term initiatives in place and emergency funding available, but neither is adequate for the task at hand. We call on Leiden University to be ready to support 250 students in September 2022, 350 more in the spring of 2023, and 450 more in Fall 2023. These students should be supported for the entirety of their chosen degree programs.
Whether we see the provision of education as a charity, duty, humanitarian aid, solidarity, justice, or simply doing our jobs does not matter. The challenge is headed our way, and the question is only how we deal with it. Leiden University in Exile is our proposal for getting ahead of these challenges. It is an organizational principle for bringing students, faculty members, administration, HR, support staff, and leadership together. It is also a network for reaching private and public donors to fund and facilitate this initiative. Endless challenges await and we will work together to overcome them.
Leiden University can respond to the ongoing crisis in many ways, but our foremost strength is education. The life plans of untold numbers of students and researchers have been thrown into turmoil since late February. We cannot un-ring that bell. What we can do is provide world-leading education. Ukraine will have to be rebuilt. Leiden University can help educate the people who will lead those efforts. We acknowledge that a comprehensive response to these challenges will have to be national. However, that cannot dissuade us from decisive action. Leiden University must take the lead and we believe that Leiden University in Exile should be at the heart of that project.
The Dutch Republic was styled “the great ark of the refugees” because it took pride as a global bastion of freedom for citizens, residents, and foreigners alike. We call on Leiden University to create Leiden University in Exile in that spirit.