Vilnius University (VU) said on Friday it launched a fundraising initiative to help Belarusian students and academics persecuted by the government of Alexander Lukashenko.
VU said the aim was to give a larger number of Belarusian citizens an opportunity to study and to accept researchers fleeing persecution.
“We are launching the campaign in light of the intensification of repressions by the official authorities of Belarus against the country's academic community, with students, professors and researchers being expelled en masse from universities because of their civil or political activities,” the university said in a statement.
VU has to date taken in around 90 Belarusian citizens. More than 50 of them are currently studying in undergraduate programmes, and the rest are doing master programmes.
Some of the students are exempted from tuition fees and the most talented ones receive monthly grants of 200 euros during the first year their studies.
According to VU Rector Rimvydas Petrauskas, “a shared history and solidarity with the society of the neighbouring country oblige” the university to help Belarusians.
Political repressions “cannot prevent Belarusians from receiving education and developing their talents in an academic environment”, he said.