Seed World

10 Steps of Surviving in War Conditions Part 2

Read part one.

Relocated Universities

During the hostilities, the Ministry of Education and Science organized the relocation of 17 universities from the occupied territories. Among them there are three universities from Zaporizhzhia region, five universities from Kherson region and eight universities from Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Together, 35,300 students and 4,000 teachers work in these educational institutions. Each region has its own specific challenges. The very fact and scale of the relocation of TSATU significantly affected not only the participants of the educational process, but also forced the management to adapt to existence in new realities with several challenges: to survive, to continue providing quality educational services, to preserve scientific and pedagogical potential, not to lose our students. The loss of infrastructure was the most painful problem. After all, the infrastructural component directly affects the ability to provide quality education and conduct scientific activities. But the most important would be the loss of reputation. Therefore, the first months were difficult and decisive. We need to make a plan of measures to restore the material and technical base, which will obviously be stolen by the occupiers.

10 Steps of Relocation

Starting in 2022, during a year of full-scale war, the administration, Supervisory Board, teachers, and students took incredible steps to preserve the university and its proper functioning, even during the occupation. And my goal today is to convey the information that we have not only solved many problems, but also plan to revive our university. And now we are gathering all our partners at the international level and asking them to support our institution, which will become the basis for the development of the agricultural sector of Southern Ukraine in the post-war period.

It was the people — the university community — that proved to be the cores that allowed us to hold our ground and continue working. The dedication of the majority of teachers, students, and staff of the university was impressive. Many of them made a difficult decision to leave their homes and leave Melitopol, refusing to accept the occupation.

TSATU before the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Cybersecurity Under Occupation

Right away, I would like to focus on cyber security, because the most valuable thing in modern education is information. The occupiers took away the official documents of students, teachers, contracts with partners and the university archive. From the very first days of the occupation, everything that we had online was blocked, we needed to start from scratch. The official website of TSATU, which was under an information blockade for about four months, was relaunched. Since then, information about the activities of the university started to regularly reappear on the website, in social media. We introduced our activities to the world, and people understood that TSATU lives, continues to work, and teach.

Cybersecurity: Relocation

At the risk of life, the university’s servers, disk drives, seals and official documents were taken out by the administration and the Supervisory Board. The 63-mile route from Melitopol to Zaporizhzhia lay through 20 occupational checkpoints. They even checked the own belongings.

Virtually all problems related to cyber security have been resolved by the rector and the Supervisory Board. With the support of the GIZ project, 110 laptops were purchased for the work of representatives of the educational hub of the university located in Zaporizhzhia. In autumn, with the support of the Supervisory Board, 13 multifunctional devices were purchased; multimedia projectors used for interactive events. We purchased four servers in Germany for continuous operation of university sites and online training.

Cybersecurity: Future

TSATU after the Russian invasion of Ukraine

In the future, we plan to expand the server capacity. Today, the chairman of the Supervisory Board pays his private money for the operation of the server. We are looking for funds to increase the server capacity and pay for its operation in Germany. The university is unfortunately unable to pay international expenses.

Prospective Students

On May 27, 2022, the occupation authorities seized all the buildings of TSATU and proclaimed the creation of a pseudo-university. All computer equipment, multimedia equipment, laboratory devices, agricultural machinery and equipment and agricultural land were seized. Teachers and students who remained under occupation are under pressure: their homes are periodically searched. Teaching and learning in Ukrainian educational institutions is prohibited for them, even online.

The full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine has significantly complicated career guidance work. The new realities of life forced the university to search for alternative methods of career guidance. The entire range of possible communication and PR activities was used. The university organized the online acceptance of freshmen’s documents. All consultations, meetings with the admissions committee and exams were attended by applicants from the occupied territory under an encrypted secure number. The university-maintained contact with the students 24/7, as internet access was practically blocked for freshmen in the occupied territory. The supervisory board contributed to the increase of state funded places at the university for the first-year students. And the new academic year of TSATU began with new students!

Admission of Students

We have already developed a media plan and a strategic plan for career guidance work for the 2023 admission. The media plan fully covered all work on Facebook, university and student Instagram pages and Telegram channels, as well as Telegram chats and Zoom conferences. With the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), we would like to create a chatbot and a virtual office of the admission committee. Despite the lack of opportunities for face-to-face meetings with potential applicants, to raise awareness among eleventh graders in social networks, career orientation work began to inform graduates and their parents about the benefits, prospects, and opportunities of studying at TSATU.

Studentship Under Occupation

After the shelling between February 24-28, 2022, TSATU students who lived in the dormitories found themselves in a very difficult situation. They had no food because the shops had been looted. The students had no cash to buy food, as banks were closed since the first day of the war. Most of the students were on internships at companies in different cities of Ukraine, cut off from their families. Since May 27, 2022, all the dormitories were seized by the occupiers. All the students’ personal belongings were destroyed, and the military personnel moved in into students’ rooms.

Stay tuned for part three.

Editors Note: You can support Dmytro Motornyi Tavria State Agrotechnological University by donating:

Company name: TSATU

IBAN Code: UA303133990000025206055700238

Name of the bank: JSC CB Privatbank, 1D Hrushevskoho str., Kyiv, 01001, Ukraine