Staff have worked over 100 hours to get University of Manchester students, who are on a year abroad in Russia, home.
Fourteen Russian Studies students were in Russia as the conflict began. Most of the students were in St Petersburg but some were in more were in remote parts of the country enrolled in language programmes.
Seven of the students were brought back quickly, but it became more difficult to retrieve the remaining seven as the airspace closed, flights stopped and financial sanctions were brought in.
The team had to evacuate the remaining students via a combination of trains and buses across the border to Tallinn in Estonia. They flew back from Estonia to the UK.
The students who were being evacuated experience a lot of mental and emotional stress. Dr Whitehand, International Programmes Office Manager, stated, “there was a very real concern as to how quickly the situation could deteriorate and our capacity to support the students in the worst-case scenarios.”
Dr Platonov, a Senior Lecturer in Russian Studies was also part of the team bringing the students back, alongside International Programmes Officer Lisa Stoker.
Dr Platonov feels personally connected in the conflict, and said “what continues to take the biggest emotional and mental toll is concern for my loved ones in the conflict zone.”
There were 1700 International students trapped in Ukraine as the conflict began, according to an Aljazeera article dated March 5 2022.
This is not the first time UoM have had to evacuate students from “very challenging and distressing situations” according to Dr Whitehand. Students were previously in Egypt and Syria during the Arab Spring, and caught-up in earthquakes in Japan and Nepal.