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Finland uni suspends student exchange with Israel institutions

May 23, 2024 at 10:27 am

A group of students set up a camp in solidarity with Palestinian people and protest against the attacks on Gaza at Helsinki University on May 06, 2024 in Helsinki, Finland [Alessandro Rampazzo/Anadolu via Getty Images]

The University of Helsinki has suspended student exchange agreements with Israeli universities due to the civilian casualties and worsening humanitarian situations in Gaza.

The decision comes after ongoing student protests since 6 May against the university’s collaboration with Israeli counterparts, amidst the destructive war in Gaza. This is part of a global movement sparked by large-scale student demonstrations at US and European universities.

The university said in a statement on Tuesday on its website that the suspension of student exchange agreements with Israeli universities was due to civilian victims as well as the catastrophic deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

However, it added that research cooperation would continue because freedom of research is so crucial to university operations, vowing to continue to develop the ethical review of research collaboration.

The university affirmed it is committed to assisting in rebuilding higher education institutions and research centres in Gaza.

“Cooperation with Israeli universities clearly violates the University of Helsinki’s ethical principles, because these universities are complicit in genocide, apartheid, and violations of international human rights,” Vilja Hermansson, a member of a group that has been organising the protests, Students for Palestine, told broadcaster YLE, according to Anadolu.

Israel has been waging a war on Gaza since 7 October, resulting in over 115,000 casualties, most of whom are children and women, with around 10,000 people missing amid massive destruction and famine that has claimed the lives of children and the elderly.

Israel continues the war despite a UN Security Council resolution to cease hostilities and despite the International Court of Justice calling for immediate measures to prevent genocidal acts and improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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