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Kyoto universities moving to accept students from war-torn Ukraine, waive fees

Staff at Kyoto University of Advanced Science hold an online interview as part of their move to accept students from Ukraine, in Kyoto's Ukyo Ward on April 20, 2022. (Mainichi/Norikazu Chiba)

KYOTO -- Moves are spreading among universities in Kyoto to accept students from Ukraine who have lost the opportunity to study due to Russia's invasion of their country.

    When Kyoto University of Advanced Science (KUAS) in the city's Ukyo Ward began holding online interviews for prospective students, applicants appeared one after another. The first batch of students is set to arrive in Japan as early as May. The university is now calling for donations to help cover the large expenses students will face, extending to living costs.

    In response to calls from staff who wanted to help students from Ukraine, KUAS decided to introduce a system to accept students from the country as regular students with tuition waivers. It commenced online interviews on April 14, and to date, around 80 students have applied. The majority are applying to enter the university's engineering faculty, which offers lectures in English -- rare for a university in Japan.

    The interviews lasted for about an hour for each applicant, and were conducted in English. One 20-year-old student studying computer science at a national university in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, near the border with Russia, was interviewed from Poland, where he has evacuated. The university asked him about his life there, and assessed his academic ability with maths and physics questions. The student inquired whether there was a place to live, among other questions, and when the university responded that there was a dormitory near the university and that he could rent it at no cost, he appeared relieved.

    At first KUAS assumed that it would accept only a few students, but because of the large number of applicants, it decided to accept up to 30.

    Engineering faculty dean Osamu Tabata, who was in charge of the interviews, commented, "There were more students in need than we expected, and we would like to do our best to accommodate those who want to study in the safety of Japan, far away from the war-torn areas." He said that the interviews would continue in the future.

    The original plan was for the university to cooperate with public institutions and support groups to cover the cost of their trip to Japan and living expenses in the country, but it feared it could fall short of funds after accepting more students, so it decided to publicly seek donations. The university's operating body, Nagamori Gakuen, is accepting inquiries by phone at 0771-29-2257 and by email at zaimu@kuas.ac.jp.

    There are other universities that have moved to support students from Ukraine. Kyoto University in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward is temporarily accepting about 30 students from two universities in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, with which it has academic exchange agreements. The period of their stay will be one year from April, and they will receive a living allowance of 80,000 yen per month. The university has established a "Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund" which is accepting donations that will go toward the students' living expenses.

    The Ritsumeikan Trust in Kyoto's Nakagyo Ward, meanwhile, plans to accept a total of about five Ukrainian student evacuees at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Oita as nonregular students for about a year. It will waive their tuition, and provide them with about 100,000 yen in living expenses per month. Ritsumeikan University is continuing to seek donations through its website.

    In addition, Ryukoku University in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward has decided to accept students from partner universities as exchange students.

    (Japanese original by Norikazu Chiba, Kyoto Bureau)

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