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University of Oregon, other colleges cut partnerships with Russia

Colleges across the US are pulling students from study abroad programs in Russia, ending research partnerships and cutting financial ties as part of a global wave of condemnation over the invasion of Ukraine.

At the same time, colleges have promised to support Russian students on their campuses, opposing calls from a few in Congress to remove them from the country as a sanction against their homeland.

The moves are mostly symbolic — US colleges have little power to sway Russia or squeeze its finances, and academic exchange between the nations has always been meager. But the suggestion that some or all Russian students should forfeit the opportunity to study here has drawn new attention to the role of universities in global disputes.

Last academic year, US colleges hosted nearly 5,000 students from Russia, less than 1% of all international students. Advocates for international education say losing those students would forgo a chance to expose them to western ideals, and they say Russians who choose to study in America are already more likely to want to change back home.

“Leaders need to make a distinction between Putin and Russian people who want a better life,” said Jill Welch, a senior adviser for the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a coalition of university presidents. “Sending anyone back wouldn’t shorten any war by a day.”

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