From Bomb Shelter To Dorm Room: Ukrainian Students Find Refuge At U.S. Colleges

Hlib Burtsev wanted to film himself opening admissions decisions from U.S. universities and share the videos online, imagining the hugs and cheers from his family if he got good news.

But when those decisions came, the 18-year-old was often huddled in a windowless room or bomb shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine. Air raid sirens and darkness frustrated his plans.

On March 31, about a month after Russia invaded Ukraine, he won a spot at Brown University for this fall. The Ivy League school extended an offer for him to join its summer session and paid for his food, flights and housing because of the war in his country.

“I didn’t expect such support from a university somewhere very far away,” Burtsev said. “Everything is very exciting, new people, new opportunities."

More than 120 U.S. universities have efforts to help Ukrainian students, according to a survey of 559 schools by the Institute of International Education (IIE), though the actual number is likely far higher.

The assistance includes extra time to complete applications, waivers for certain official documents, more spots for Ukrainian students and financial aid. As the conflict enters its sixth month, some of these students are now arriving on college campuses for the fall semester.