Yale administrators and Ukrainian students aim to increase Ukrainian admissions
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, administrators say that they will focus on expanding Yale’s Ukrainian population, although it is unclear whether admit numbers for the class of 2026 honor this assertion.
Lukas Flippo, Senior Photographer
Few high school seniors open their acceptances in a war zone.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February, instigating a war that the International Committee of the Red Cross has deemed a “humanitarian crisis.” In the month between the Russian invasion and Yale’s release of its admissions decisions for the class of 2026, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions looked to increase the number of Ukrainian students admitted into the class, according to Vice President of Global Strategy Pericles Lewis.
“We are looking carefully at Ukrainian students in the course of admissions, to the college and to other parts of the University,” Lewis told the News. “The number is obviously not large relative to the need of the Ukrainian people. But I do hope that [there] will be some expansion of the number of Ukrainians on campus next year.”
All of the schools at the University are looking into admitting more Ukrainian students, Lewis added, though he does not think the admissions rate for Russian students will see any change in the near future. Lewis also said that Yale hopes to allow more Ukrainian visitors on campus, but that will most likely not take place until the fall.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan told the News that he cannot disclose the number of Ukrainian applicants, or students from any particular interest group or country, admitted on March 31.
But in an email to the News, Pavlo Kononenko — who serves as the director of college counseling at Ukraine Global Scholars, a non-profit supporting Ukrainian high school students in their quest to attend elite boarding schools and colleges — wrote that two students from Ukraine Global Scholars were accepted into Yale, which is similar to the number of students accepted in the past few years.
The two admitted students still have to decide whether or not they will matriculate to Yale or choose other universities. It is unclear if more students were accepted independent of Ukrainian Global Scholars.
Quinlan said Yale applied the same rigorous admissions criteria to applicants from Ukraine and the rest of the world.
“We took a careful look at the students who applied from Ukraine this spring, recognizing the unique hardships these students are enduring,” Quinlan wrote in an email to the News. “But our approach here was the same as for students from any part of the world dealing with acute or ongoing challenges.”
Quinlan added that Yale consistently receives applications from countries facing significant military or political conflicts. He cited Afghanistan, Myanmar, Rwanda, Syria and Lebanon specifically as some of these regions.
In general, he noted, the University is looking to increase its involvement in initiatives that recruit students from war-torn countries. According to Quinlan, Yale has partnered with institutions in the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, or COFHE — a group of schools including Harvard and Princeton which have committed to meet the full demonstrated financial need of their students — to explore a “cohort model” for matching refugee applicants with schools like Yale during and after crises.
In March, current Ukrainian students reached out to meet with Quinlan and address the extraordinary challenges Ukrainians applicants have faced even before the war.
Quinlan said he had a “productive meeting” with his office’s director of international admissions as well as two Ukrainian students — Oleksii Antoniuk ’24 and Yuliia Zhukovets ’23 — who he notes have become “strong and outspoken representatives of their homeland and culture.”
Zhukovets told the News that the meeting with Quinlan was a “broader conversation” about the necessity of having more students from countries where war is happening. At the meeting, she, along with Antoniuk, shared how Ukrainian students can improve the Yale community and why attending Yale can be beneficial for Ukrainian students. Zhukovets said that representatives from the admissions office told them that they understand that the number of applicants and quality of applications from Ukraine will decrease due to the war.
She added that the conversation was focused on how current students and alumni can help Ukrainians applying to Yale increase their likelihood of getting in. Zhukovets said that at the meeting, the representatives from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions told Antoniuk and her that they would like to meet with them again once this admissions cycle ended.
“The current students have committed to helping us communicate with admitted Ukrainian students and support their transition to Yale and have also connected us with their contacts at Ukraine Global Scholars,” Quinlan wrote in an email to the News.
Antoniuk told the News he viewed some admissions data on Ukrainian students after he and Zhukovets’ initial meeting with Quinlan, and that he considered this year “groundbreaking” in terms of the admission of Ukrainian students.
“I am pleasantly surprised by how accessible [and] how helpful the admissions office here at Yale is,” Antoniuk said. “It’s just incredible.”
Antoniuk, who was a part of the Ukraine Global Scholars program and now serves as a mentor within the organization, said he had a “pleasant” experience with the program and is glad to see it now connecting with Yale.
Antoniuk explained that obstacles have historically prevented Ukrainian students from being recruited by Yale, including poor English-speaking skills and weak formal education resulting from poorly-funded educational institutions. He noted that his goal was twofold — to increase the number of students who become eligible and willing to attend the University.
One way to do this, Antoniuk explained, was for current Ukrainian students to reach out to admitted Ukrainian students following decision day, because “it is much easier for me and for other [students] at Yale to connect with Ukrainians than for the Yale admissions office to [do so].”
Admitted students must submit their matriculation decisions by May 2.