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Internally displaced higher education institutions of Donbas. BLOG by Natalia Yemchenko, SCM’s Director of Public Relations and Communications


The right to be a student is won at the entrance exams. The students of Donbas took the exam twice. They not only proved that they were worthy to become students, but they also defended their right to study these last years, when both people and universities had to leave their native cities. In fact, to evacuate.

Moving from one apartment to another is a matter of great concern. Moving to another city is a twice more complicated matter. To move the university to another city in the conditions of war is a drama. Tens of thousands of people had to overcome it. And 18 universities.

What and where are they now, the internally displaced higher education institutions of Donbas?

Donetsk National University (DonNU) was one of the first to leave its hometown in 2014. DonNU is now in Vinnytsia. They had to search premises for the universities and housing for teachers and students. They had to search its place in a new life for everyone. We in Rinat Akhmetov Humanitarian Center know how it was in detail, because in 2015 we helped the universities with purchasing multimedia equipment for the educational process.

In 2016, Donetsk National Medical University opened branches in Kropivnytskyi and Kramatorsk. By the beginning of the academic year, only the premises were found, but they were empty. No chairs and tables. And again, it was Akhmetov Center that helped - bought furniture within the shortest possible time. The furniture for 21 classrooms. Students and teachers were helped with the products and given medical support. And this year, DNMU has opened one more department in Mariupol.

Because of the hostilities, Donetsk National Technical University had to move to Pokrovsk.

Luhansk Trade University moved to Sloviansk. They started from scratch like the majority in Donbas did.

Volodymyr Dal East Ukrainian National University and E.O. Dydorenko Luhansk State University of Internal Affairs are now located in Severodonetsk.

Taras Shevchenko Luhansk National University (LuhNU) is currently located in Starobelsk.

Other 11 universities of Donbas moved to Bakhmut, Lysychansk, Rubezhne, Kramatorsk, Kryvyi Rih, Kyiv.

The transfer of Donetsk and Luhansk universities to new cities is very important. This can affect the lives of thousands of people and the history of the cities: strong academic institutions form strong academic communities. For example, it affected the life of Mariupol, which accepted not one, but 2 Donetsk universities and became a new home for them.

They did it. They were able to preserve the most important – their teachers. They saved and attracted new students. In the rating of Ukrainian universities of 2017, Donetsk National Technical University and Donetsk National University ranked among the top 30. Three more universities entered the first hundred. Each score in this rating for them must be multiplied by ten, because the way to achieving these results was ten times harder.

Not least due to the patrons’, international organizations’ and local authorities’ support the internally displaced higher education institutions germinate, grow and change. The next logical step for them would be to create strong school boards that would help to find opportunities for further growth: the creation of the new libraries, laboratories and lecture rooms, thus, helping to turn challenges into opportunities.