Study Group in Poland

16 March 2022

Banner registering the commitment of Poland to Refugee support - 'Krakow is with you'

A small group of postgraduate students and a member of academic staff (Dr Gerard McCann) have recently returned from a study visit to south-east Poland. This involved working with Ukrainian and Polish staff and students on ways to assist in Ukrainian Refugee relief. Initially in Poland for the 'Beyond Borders' Intensive Programme, the focus of the programme changed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis in the region. The delegation assisted where possible with Refugee issues and was part of inter-university discussions on higher education provision through this crisis, including online courses and bespoke support systems for students and staff who remain in Ukraine or are Refugees.

Leading the delegation, Dr Gerard McCann commented that:

"The humanitarian need of Ukrainian Refugees is on a scale not seen since the 1940s. European countries and civil society urgently need to direct resources and expertise towards the fleeing Ukrainian families and help the work to end this war. Education has its role to play, and we need to look at all options to assist Ukrainian young people to get through this horrendous time".

St Mary’s, acting as a community, is keen to help Ukraine Refugees and we would ask all staff to consider making available any spare accommodation to host Refugee individuals and families. If you are able and willing to do so, please register your interest on the 'Homes for Ukraine' site and for our records please leave details with Briege Ellis in the International Office so that we can assist with family resettlement when refugees arrive.

Other actions that the College is working on includes enabling Ukrainian Refugee undergraduates to continue their university studies and working with the Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s to provide English language courses. We would encourage students to put themselves forward with this vital support for newly arrived Refugees. Briege will be registering students interested in this initiative.

We continue to support the Chaplaincy's Ukraine Appeal for supplies as well as continuing a fundraising drive for charities working inside Ukraine: Caritas Ukraine (Ukraine - Caritas Polska) and DePaul International Ukraine (Emergency Appeal for Ukraine - Depaul International. With the help of the Chaplaincy, students at QUB and St Brigid's Parish Belfast, we have already been able to deliver immediate financial support for Refugee reception relief in Krakow.

Finally, we are exploring ongoing actions with our key partners in the University of Lviv, the Catholic University of Lviv and the Lesia Ukrainka University. We expect concrete plans to be proposed on the return of the St Mary's study group.

Professor Adam Nowakowski, Karpathian College, Krosno; Professor Valentyna Ushchyna, Lesia Ukrainka University; Dr Gerard McCann, St Mary's University College

St Mary's students in the Beyond Borders delegation with Professor Adam Nowakowski of the        Karpathian College, Krosno

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