Sweden will provide the European Humanities University (EHU) with an additional SEK 10 million (approximately EUR 1.1 million) in support this year. Sofia Strand, State Secretary of Sweden's Ministry for International Development Cooperation, announced the new gift in Stockholm at a celebration of the 20th anniversary of EHU's founding.
"In addition to our yearly support the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will contribute an extra installment of SEK 10 million. We wish these funds will serve as an important tool for shaping the future of EHU," said Strand. The State Secretary assured the gathering that Sweden is and will remain a long-term partner of EHU.
The celebration was attended by representatives of EHU's Governing Board, administration, students, and faculty; Lithuanian and Swedish diplomats; and approximately seventy friends and supporters of EHU. At a discussion held at the Swedish Parliament earlier in the day, EHU students explained why they chose to study at EHU and why this university is a necessary alternative to what is offered in Belarus.
"Studies at EHU are completely different to what you can find in Belarus," said law student Kristina Koryagina. “Studies here are truly European. We can feel free here."
Since 2004, when EHU was closed in Belarus and, as a result, moved to Vilnius, the Swedish government has provided the University with over SEK 12 million in support.
This year the governments of Norway and the United States also announced major new donations to EHU. Norway increased support for EHU from 3 million Norwegian kroner per year (approximately EUR 408,000) to 5 million Norwegian kroner per year (approximately EUR 680,000) and committed itself to providing this level of funding for the next three years. The United States announced last summer that it will be providing USD 1 million to EHU over the next three years.
"Today’s academic discourse doesn’t recognize any national borders," Strand noted. "Ideas fly freely and [this] is manifested in a very direct way by the EHU students traveling between their homes in Belarus and campus in Vilnius. In addition to this, many of the students engage in their studies through distance learning and through the freedom of the internet; knowledge and impulses can in this way pour into an increasingly closed Belarus."
"We are very thankful and understand that the support obligates us to do everything we can not to disappoint the taxpayers from the countries that support us," said Anatoli Mikhailov, Founding Rector of EHU. "We must become a strong university...and establish the tradition of a free university in a country [Belarus] that is fighting for transformation."
Daniel Tarschys, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Administration at Stockholm University and new Chair of EHU's Governing Board, reminded the participants that EHU "is a university founded on European values". "The goal of the University is to remove barriers that separate Belarus from Europe and to support the integration of Belarus into Europe," Tarschys noted.
EHU is supported by more than a dozen governments as well as the European Commission, the Nordic Council of Ministers, several major foundations, and other donors.
The European Humanities University is a private, non-profit liberal arts university founded in Minsk in 1992. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the university has been headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania since authorities expelled it from Belarus in 2004. It serves nearly 2,000 mostly Belarusian students, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs and promoting research in the humanities and social sciences.