Ukrainian refugee earns university place after being hosted in Gloucestershire
By Sarah Wood
A Ukrainian refugee has earned a place at one of the UK's most prestigious universities, after being hosted by a Gloucestershire family.
Bohdan Koshchavets, 18, lived and studied for 11 years in the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, around 80 miles from the Russian border.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Bohdan's family found the Homes for Ukraine scheme and he came to Gloucestershire, alone, aged 16, where he attended St Edward's School in Cheltenham.
His family stayed behind in Kyiv to support soldiers and local people during the invasion.
Bohdan said: "After the hostility started, we had no internet network, electricity, water or food, depriving us of the opportunity of both an education and to live normally. These dangerous conditions forced us to live in the basement of our home, we were just trying to survive.
"The war completely changed my life. I was forced to leave my friends, family and home. England gave me a warm welcome and provided me with the opportunity to live and continue with my education, something my family holds in very high regard.
"In Gloucestershire, I was placed to live with a brilliant family, who have been supporting and hugely contributing to my life."
After arriving in the UK, Bohdan threw himself into studying economics. In just a few weeks, he had covered the AS syllabus, and was chosen to represent St Edwards at the World Economics Cup.
He achieved an A* in maths and an A in economics in his A Levels and was offered a place at King's College London.
He continued: "Moving to the UK has not only helped me to discover the world, but changed my personal goal. With every day here, I am motivated by seeing the problems facing my country, Ukraine, and how we can recover the country after the end of the war.
"Through my deeper understanding of economics, I want to be equipped to become the one who can change the world."
Gloucestershire has welcomed 1,574 Ukrainian guests, including more than 500 school-aged children. Currently there are 378 households hosting Ukrainian guests in Gloucestershire, opening their family homes to welcome those displaced by war.
Cllr Stephan Fifield, cabinet member responsible for refugee resettlement at Gloucestershire County Council, said: "I am delighted that Bohdan has been offered a place at King's College London, it is a deserved reward for all his hard work in tragic circumstances.
"This is an example of the good that has been done by hundreds of Gloucestershire households in hosting refugees from Ukraine.
"We are always looking for more families that would like to be a part of the scheme and urge households to consider if they could become a host."
Matthew Burke, principal of St Edward's School, said: "Meeting Bohdan for the first time on a Zoom call with bombs going off on the background will definitely be a student interview I remember for the rest of my life.
"With the support of the extended St Edward's community, we were able to cover the tuition fees and any other school costs, making it possible for Bohdan to complete his A Level studies in one-and-a-half-years.
"His academic ability was clear to all his teachers from the start and, with the support of our pastoral and careers team, we also helped him in the process of applying to university, where he has not only secured a place at King's College London, but a scholarship as well.
"As a school, we have helped five families who have fled Ukraine, and they have all contributed positively to our community. They have provided unique first-hand insights into events that will be studied in history for years to come, and each have contributed positively to the communities in which they have joined. They have represented local sports clubs, volunteered in the community and assisted those who have moved since they arrived.
"We are certainly a richer community for the presence of students such as Bohdan and feel privileged that we have helped play a small part in future successes he will no doubt secure."
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