Nizalov said he felt like the University was “making [him] choose between [his] degree and stopping a genocide in [his] country”NIKOLAI NIZALOV

A Ukrainian fresher volunteering on the frontline has been denied financial aid from the University’s Ukrainian Conflict Student Hardship Fund.

Nikolai Nizalov, a biology student from St Catharine’s College, applied to the fund at the end of last term to help him cover his living expenses, including personal protective equipment, while volunteering in Ukraine.

Nikolai, who is currently travelling to the frontline on his first active mission as a drone pilot and medic, posted about the University’s decision on his Instagram story, saying it felt like they were “making [him] choose between [his] degree and stopping a genocide in [his] country.”

In an earlier interview with Varsity, Nikolai said: “When the war started I emptied my bank account. When I had to buy myself protective equipment, I maxed out my overdraft.”

In order to finance his voluntary drone unit, Nikolai has relied on donations from his fundraiser, and was hoping for the financial aid from the University to fund his own living costs.


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The email from the University, which Nikolai also shared on his Instagram story, stated that his “current status as a student [was] unclear”, although why this is the case was not clarified. The email implied that it is on the grounds of Nikolai’s student status that his application was rejected, although did say: “It may be possible to make an application of the Special Hardship Fund in future [sic].”

When asked about the University’s decision, Nikolai said: “This money would have had a very tangible effect on my life. To the University it is a small sum; to me, I would have covered everyday expenses and enough to buy any personal protective equipment. Is my status of being a student compromised because I might not come home?”

The University of Cambridge has been approached for comment.

Nikolai continues to raise money for his unit via his fundraiser. Money can be donated to his PayPal: