What Does Russia’s Attack on Ukraine Mean for the Education Sector in 2022?

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine couldn’t have passed by you over the past couple of weeks. Everyone’s talking about it. There’s no place online where you wouldn’t see a mention of it.

But it’s not just the photos and videos from the now-war-torn country that you’ve probably seen online or on TV. There have been plenty of reports about the sanctions imposed on Russia. You might’ve even already felt them impacting your life.

Still, there’s one thing few talk about. What does it all – the invasion, the sanctions, the refugee crisis, – mean for the education industry in 2022?

Here’s what essay writers from EssayPro have to tell you about the five main consequences that will rock the education industry throughout the year. But remember: the situation is still ongoing, and its impact can shift with new developments.

Inflation Will Make Studying in the U.S. Even Less Affordable

Let’s kick things off with the most obvious impact of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Americans will feel the sanctions in their wallets. Everyone’s day-to-day expenses will shoot up. That includes transportation, electricity bills, groceries, and even rent. The only question is by how much.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine already led to a 7.9% year-on-year increase in February’s consumer price index. This is the highest surge in the past 40 years. The main reason behind it? Gasoline prices skyrocketed. (In March, they passed a historic $4 per gallon threshold.)

What’s more, both Ukraine and Russia account for a third of the global wheat trade. Wheat deficit means pasta, cereal, flour, and even beer will rise in price. And it’s not just wheat – these foods will also become more expensive:

  • Fruit and vegetables;
  • Dairy;
  • Sunflower seed oil;
  • Livestock feed.

What does any of it have to do with the education industry, though? Well, the upsurge in day-to-day expenses means everyday Americans’ purchasing power will drop. That, in turn, means fewer people being able to afford to live and study in the United States. So, there’ll probably be fewer applicants for the 2022/23 academic year.

Tuition Fees Are Bound to Rise Across the Board

The rise in everyday expenses means fewer people can afford to pay tuition as-is, especially out of state. But that’s only a part of the problem. Colleges and universities won’t be able to keep tuition fees at the same level throughout the year.

Since the U.S. economy remains dependent on fossil fuels, simply powering and heating campuses will cost more. But that’s not the only expense that will make running an educational institution more expensive:

  1. High-tech devices will become costlier. Some rare metals used in those devices will or already have become more expensive. Palladium prices, for example, hit a six-month high as Russia is its main exporter.
  2. Labor costs will increase. Inflation will eat away at the university and college staff’s earnings. So, their salary will have to rise to cover the increase in day-to-day expenses.
  3. Any other equipment (furniture, stationery, etc.) will become more expensive, too. Last-mile delivery of virtually anything in the United States is still done by trucks. Increased transportation costs will translate into higher consumer prices.

More Students Will Consider Studying in Cheaper Countries

The decrease in purchasing power and rising tuition fees mean one thing. More and more future students from the U.S. will prefer more affordable countries for their studies.

Study destinations abroad will probably see a rise in the number of international students from the U.S already this year. Those destinations will include Europe, Central and South America, and Asia, with the EU countries absorbing most of the influx.

The most affordable destinations are:

  • Central Europe: the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland;
  • Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania;
  • South America: Chile, Ecuador, Peru;
  • Asia: Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan.

Another reason for this to happen is that the student loan industry has gained a bad reputation over the past couple of decades. Yes, 73% of Gen Zers will still graduate with student loan debt. But the share of students wanting to avoid this fate is still on the rise. That makes the option to study abroad all the more enticing for future students.

There Will Be an Influx of Ukrainian Students & Scholars

Over 2.5 million people had to flee Ukraine amidst the invasion. Among them are current or soon-to-be students, university and college staff, and researchers, too.

The neighboring countries are likely to absorb most of this influx. But there are still thousands that travel further into the EU and beyond. The reason? Some have family members or friends in those countries. Others know the local language and bet that it’ll be easier to find a job.

This influx to the U.S. will be somewhat delayed and smaller compared to what the EU should prepare for. Still, there will be more and more Ukrainians moving to the United States because of the same reasons.

Colleges and universities will have to find a way to support both students and scholars. This can mean:

  • Reducing tuition fees for Ukrainians or waiving them altogether;
  • Establishing new scholarship programs for Ukrainians who want to continue or begin their studies in the U.S.;
  • Inviting Ukrainian scholars to work and do their research in the United States.

Partnerships with Russian Institutions Are Already Cut

Multinational companies like Disney, IBM, and Apple aren’t the only ones severing any ties with Russia. Most American universities and colleges have already shut down their programs. They also told their students to leave Russia and return home as soon as possible.

Here are just some U.S. educational institutions that have terminated their partnerships with their Russian counterparts:

  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is cutting any ties with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow;
  • The Council on International Educational Exchange has canceled its spring programs. They were supposed to take place in St. Petersburg;
  • The University of Michigan has canceled its summer program in Russia.

Of course, some establishments suspended their programs in Russia long before the 2022 invasion. They did that as a response to the Crimea annexation. But whatever programs were remaining active at the beginning of the year will be canceled or suspended throughout the year.

That, of course, means that other universities will have to fill the space that Russian ones have left. That’s not likely to happen overnight, of course. But there’s no reason it should take more than an academic semester to make all the arrangements necessary.

Final Thoughts

These are just the key consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the education sector that you should know about. There are also less evident and less urgent outcomes that the education industry should brace for, too, such as:

  • Russian students abroad will need special attention from their alma mater, too. They’re likely to become a target of hate speech and suggestions like “let’s kick out Russian students” (Rep. Eric Swalwell’s words);
  • For obvious reasons, any exchange programs between U.S. and Ukrainian universities are extremely unlikely to take place this year;
  • Both Ukrainian and Russian international students may need counseling. Educational institutions should step in to provide it.