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Published: 02 Mar, 2022

Government urge to universities: Cease contacts and collaborations with Russia and Belarus

NEWS On Wednesday, Minister of Education Anna Ekström announced at a press briefing that Swedish universities must immediately cease their education and research collaborations with government agencies in Russia and Belarus.

Text: Johanna Fredriksson

Umeå University currently has nearly 30 exchange agreements with universities in Russia, but none with universities in Belarus. The University has previously decided not to send exchange students within these agreements, due to the security situation in the region and the advice against travel to these countries issued by the the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The current urge from the Government further adds that research collaborations conducted jointly with government-run higher education institutions in Russia and Belarus, or those funded fully or partially by either of those two countries, must cease. No new such agreements may be initiated either.

We must be particularly aware of all dimensions a collaboration may contain.

The University Management at Umeå University urges all faculties and departments to go through and check their research collaborations.

“Researchers, universities and science form the pillar of a democratic society. Although, this extreme situation that Europe is facing means that we must be particularly aware of all dimensions a collaboration may contain,” says Vice-Chancellor Hans Adolfsson.

The Minister of Education emphasised that many education or research collaborations include individual contacts between researchers in Sweden and Russia or Belarus. Many researchers in Russia and Belarus are also openly criticising the actions of the Russian Federation, and by doing so risking their lives.

“It’s important that individual Russian and Belarusian researchers are not automatically equated with government agencies,” said Anna Ekström at the press briefing.

This is something that Hans Adolfsson also want to emphasize:

“Collaborations in education and research are often based on individual contacts between research fellows. I'd like to emphasise the importance of Umeå University taking our responsibility to make assessments regarding the suitability of contacts and collaborations on a case-by-case level. It is also important to distinguish between government run or controlled universities and, on the other hand, the individual. Many researchers risk their lives by criticising the actions of the Russian regime”.

Read Hans Adolfssons post in the management blog.

See the press briefing

During the press briefing on 2 March 2022 with the Minister of Education, Vice-Chancellor Hans Adolfsson participated in his role as vice chair of the Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF). Approximately 11:00 minutes into the broadcast, the Minister makes an address to researchers in English. See the press briefing on the Government’s website