UO’s Ukrainian community appeals to administration for financial assistance – The Oakland Post

As the war between Russia and Ukraine rages on, Ukrainian students and professors at Oakland University have implored the OU administration for financial assistance.

Because of extension of visas for Ukrainian nationals by the Biden administration, Ukrainian students are now extending their stay in the United States because it is unsafe for them to return to their home country.

“I have asked the administration to let them take classes and waive tuition fees so that they can use their time here to develop themselves intellectually,” said biology professor Taras Oleksyk. “[It would] really costs nothing at all in college just let them stay in class and we, as a community, will take care of their living space.

Currently, the university has nine Ukrainian students, but Oleksyk says only four of the nine students need a tuition waiver.

One of these students is Zlata Bilanin. Bilanin is here as part of the American Semester Abroad program. Under the guidelines of this program, Bilanin cannot apply for traditional methods of financial aid and can only work up to 20 hours a week in an on-campus job.

” Inasmuch as F-1 StudentI can not work [full-time] to cover my tuition on my own, so there is no way for me to cover my tuition,” Bilanin said. “The only chance [for] the tuition fees to be covered so that i can just continue my studies are [for the] university to really help me.

It is the hope of students like Bilanin that OU will extend their goodwill and allow these students to continue studying at little cost to the university.

“It would mean a lot because then I could continue my studies. My parents are currently [in] the state where the war is going on, so I’m supposed to help them no other way [around]”, Bilanine said. “My parents can’t help me at the moment. They have to think [the] refugees who stay at home, so unfortunately I have to help myself.

Bilanin believes that the university’s response to this crisis will be a good indicator of how attentive it is to the plight of its international students.

“[It would show] that the university cares about helping people in need. As Ukrainian students we are in a situation where we cannot continue our education in our homeland,” Bilanin said. “What’s the OU going to do with it [situation] as an institution gives guidance to students and how [the] University [cares for] their students in this way.

If OU refuses to waive tuition fees or provide additional support, students like Bilanin will either be forced to return to their countries in unsafe conditions or attempt to access other programs abroad.

“Since I don’t have the possibility to cover the tuition fees by myself, I should [return] back to Ukraine,” Bilanin said. “[Or] find other opportunities abroad, but I need to plan my studies and I am able [where] I need to plan now [because] my country is invaded.

So far, the university has yet to make a decision on how best to support its Ukrainian students. According to Brian Bierley, Director of Media Relations, Provost Britt Rios-Ellis said the leadership team is considering many options, but those options are still just conversations at this point.

“I know sometimes these things take a long time when they’re working as usual, but I would like to point out that it’s not business as usual,” Professor Oleksyk said. “I think we need to think about what we can do now or we’ll regret not making these decisions sooner.”