Ukrainian Students Union in Great Britain [Українська Студентська Громада у Великій Британії] – an organisation which brought together Ukrainian students, and also potential students and graduates.
The organisation, originally called the Association of Ukrainian Students in Great Britain (AUSGB), was formed on 29 September 1947 in London by a group of Ukrainians who had previously been in the Polish armed forces under British command. Its aim was to bring together Ukrainians who had either already begun to study at British universities or, having completed their secondary education before arriving in the UK, wished to continue their studies. The original members were subsequently joined by potential students among the Ukrainian European Voluntary Workers who began to arrive in the UK. A separate students’ organisation, which had been active in 1945-1947 at camps in Italy holding former soldiers of the Galicia Division, resumed its activities after the transfer of the Galicia Division personnel to camps in the UK in May-June 1947. On 25 December 1948, after the release of the Galicia Division personnel from prisoner-of-war status, this organisation merged with the AUSGB. At the time of the merger the AUSGB had 209 members, of which 147 previously belonged to the Galicia Division organisation, and four were in full-time study.
Initially the main focus of the AUSGB’s activities was on gathering information on opportunities and requirements for entry to British higher education establishments and on possible sources of funding. At the organisation’s request, in August 1948 the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain established the Relief Board for Ukrainian Students in Great Britain which raised funds for grants to students. As a result of these efforts the number of AUSGB members at universities and polytechnics increased to over 20 by 1953. Some members studied on distance learning courses, including those run by the Distance Learning Institute of the Ukrainian Free University. The AUSGB also ran a discussion club which organised lectures by invited speakers. It became a member of the Central Union of Ukrainian Students, and in July 1951 was recognised by the National Union of Students of England, Wales and Northern Ireland as the representative organisation of Ukrainian students in Great Britain. In the absence of a younger age group of potential students, by mid-1953 the membership of the AUSGB had fallen to 39, and eventually the organisation became inactive.
Largely as a result of the 1962 introduction of local authority grants for most students in the UK, from the mid-1960s significant numbers of Ukrainians who had arrived in the UK as children or were born in the UK began to study at British higher education establishments, and in April 1967 members of this generation re-activated the AUSGB. With the aim of enhancing the stability of the organisation, eligibility for membership was extended to include former students for up to five years after graduation. In March 1977 the English version of the organisation’s name was changed to Ukrainian Students Union in Great Britain (USU). In mid-1977 the USU had about 130 members, of whom about 70 were in full-time study.
Most activities were organised at the level of regional USU branches which were active at various times in the Manchester, London, Derby and Bradford areas and which elected their own executives. Their activities included lectures, discussions, conferences, literature readings, film screenings, various other cultural and social events, and information and campaigning activities, particularly in support of Ukrainian political prisoners in the USSR. The national USU executive organised annual general meetings of the organisation as a whole, cooperated on various issues with other Ukrainian community organisations in the UK, and occasionally undertook specific projects such as the reprinting of a collection of poems by Ivan Franko and two shortlived attempts to publish a student magazine (Meteor and Svichado). From the 1960s the USU was a member of the Union of Ukrainian Student Associations in Europe (Soiuz Ukrainskykh Studentskykh Tovarystv v Evropi – SUSTE), which was formed in 1963 and subsequently became a member of the Central Union of Ukrainian Students. The USU remained active until the early 1990s. After a period of inactivity, in 2003-2004 a group of recently-arrived students from Ukraine revived the organisation in London but these efforts were shortlived.
At the beginning of the 21st century, by which time a substantial number of Ukrainians from independent Ukraine were studying in the UK, Ukrainian societies began to be established at individual universities, including Cambridge (2000), Oxford (2004), the London School of Economics (2006) and others. In mid-2022 an organisation, also called the Ukrainian Students Union, was formed as a platform for cooperation between such university societies, of which there were at least twenty by October of that year.
The USU was chaired by Lev Zub (September 1947 – December 1948), Jaroslaw Hawrych (December 1948 – January 1950), Roman Smulka (January 1950 – ?), Victor Swoboda (? – December 1951), Wasyl Oleskiw (December 1951 – December 1952), Volodymyr Novosilets (December 1952 – December 1953), Bohdan Danchevsky (December 1953 – December 1954), Dmytro Bartkiw (December 1954 – ?), Lidia Kaluzhna (1956-1960), Petro Cymbalistyj (acting chair 1960-1967), Anna Lastowecka (1967-1969), Bohdan Sweryt (1969-1972), Bohdan Levytsky (1972-1974), Taras Mikulin (1975-1976), Roman Krawec (1976-1978), Laryssa Tkaczuk (1978-1979), Nadia Tkaczuk (1979-1981), Jaroslaw Wasyluk (1981-1983), Stepan Oleskiw (1983-1984), Oleh Leszczyszyn (1984-1986), Bohdan Prychidnyj (1986-1987), Stepan Oleskiw (1987-1992), Olesya Khromeychuk (2003-2004).
‘Pershi zahalni zbory Ukrainskoi Studentskoi Hromady v V. Brytanii’, Ukrainska Dumka (London), 28 September 1947, p. 5
‘Zahalni zbory Ukrainskoi Studentskoi Hromady u V. Brytanii’, Ukrainska Dumka (London), 7 January 1949, p. 5
Uchasnyk, ‘Zahalni zbory Ukrainskoi Studentskoi Hromady’, Ukrainska Dumka (London), 13 April 1967, p. 5
Lyczmanenko, V., ‘Ukrainske studentstvo u Velykobritanii’, Vitrazh (London), 1978, no. 4, pp. 26-30