Ukrainians Pursue European Education at VMU
As the turmoil in Ukraine continues and the country‘s future is as uncertain as ever, its students look for opportunities beyond the border: not just in the West, but in the southernmost Baltic state as well. Lately there’s been an upsurge in Ukrainian youths coming to Lithuania to improve their English or professional skills and taste a different culture.
Martynas Gedvila (email@example.com)
This summer seven young people from Ukraine visited Kaunas as participants of CLUE, Vytautas Magnus University’s intensive English language course intended for pupils and students from abroad. The participants contended that Lithuania offered them an experience of high-quality education, which could later result in wider career opportunities. This is a particularly hot-button issue for the Ukrainians, as their homeland’s future remains up in the air.
“You can speak English everywhere abroad. It will give me more opportunities in the future”, hopes Anastasiya, a pupil of the Kharkiv Gymnasium No. 163.
Ukrainians enjoyed the courses, as well as the introduction to the different study approach of VMU, which favours close interaction between students and lecturers. “The teachers are friendlier here, they try to help you in any way they can. In the academy, they are different, because there is no personal contact”, points out Anna, who is studying in the Yaroslav the Wise Law Academy of Ukraine. CLUE participants were also pleasantly surprised by the possibility to study languages and other subjects not directly related to their specialty.
In early August, VMU had one more visitor from Ukraine. Ieva Beliavcev, who studies Advertising and PR in the Ukrainian Academy of Printing, attended Vytautas Magnus University’s Summer Internship Program (SIP) together with youths from Brazil, the USA, Germany, and Romania.
SIP participants had lectures about Lithuania, learned some Lithuanian, met with employers in their respective fields, and enjoyed a cultural programme which included a boat tour of the Nemunas river and trips to Kaunas, Vilnius, and Trakai.
“I’ve been to Lithuania before, but not Kaunas, so it was my first visit to this beautiful city. I really liked it because it reminded me of Lviv, my hometown. Lithuania is my second motherland, so I knew a lot about it already. SIP gave me a new experience and some professional skills”, Ieva explained. She found out about the internship from her mother, a Lithuanian working in the Baltic country’s consulate in Ukraine.
Speaking about the current events in Ukraine, Ieva said that the people are anxiously waiting for the resolution of the conflict and don’t want the country to be divided.
“The situation in the east is terrifying and complicated. It is a real war between two countries and we’re afraid that it can result in the occupation of a larger area of Ukraine. Peaceful people are dying and this is the saddest fact of all. Students can’t be involved in the struggle, because this is war, not revolution anymore. They can only be volunteers and join the Ukrainian army. But the fact is that the revolution in Kiev was actually started by the students who wanted to join the EU”, the Ukrainian noted.
Hit by troubled times, the students in Ukraine are looking for education opportunities abroad, aiming for Europe-oriented universities. More and more of them choose to study in Lithuania: notably, their interest increased after Vytautas Magnus University’s Representative Office was opened in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, last October.
“Since Ukraine has made its choice to support the European path of development, the absolute priority of this office is to promote European values, which one can get acquainted with while studying at VMU. Lithuania welcomes prospective students on fairly loyal conditions of higher education, so, many Ukrainians are willing and able to study at VMU. What is especially pleasing is that many Ukrainians consider the studies at VMU an opportunity to gain knowledge in order to build the new Ukrainian society”, the Kharkiv office’s employee Alina Usachyova said.
The VMU office was opened in Kharkiv in late October of 2013 with the aim of actively improving Lithuanian-Ukrainian relations and expanding international social partnerships. VMU is working on a number of joint projects with higher education schools in Kiev and Kharkiv: double degree study programmes, academic exchange, research cooperation. A special foundation of academic cooperation, established last year, supports the studies of citizens from Eastern Partnership countries at VMU.