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Fake: Ukraine is closing universities because college-age men are dead

We refute the fake about the closure of Ukrainian universities due to the mass deaths of students who went to war (this is a complete lie). We also provide other examples of false narratives spread by pro-Russian propagandists, namely the American YouTube channel Redacted.

 Several Ukrainian universities are indeed facing potential closure due to declining student numbers. However, this isn’t because they are “dead,” as some propagandists falsely claim. It’s simply that 17 years ago the birth rate was extremely low.

We continue to report on the russian propaganda bullhorns in the United States. This is crucial, as their messages reach many Americans, influencing U.S. government support for Ukraine.

Despite russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the loss of tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives, and the destruction of Ukrainian cities, certain prominent American “journalists” persist in echoing kremlin narratives. For instance, the Redacted YouTube channel aired a program suggesting that “Ukraine is closing universities because the men of student age are all dead.”

This is a blatant lie.
  • Firstly, the closure of universities is merely in the planning stage;
  • Secondly, while the war has played a certain role, the primary reasons are demographic;
  • Thirdly, Ukrainian men under the age of 27 (recently lowered to 25) with the status of “conscript” cannot be drafted without their consent (except for those who have the status of “persons liable for military service”). This contradicts the claim about the “men of student age” in the fake news.


In fact, the draft law “On the Prerequisites for Modernizing the Network of Higher Educational Institutions” aims not just to reduce the number of universities but also to improve their quality.

The need to reduce the number of universities can be explained by simple mathematics. Mychailo Wynnyckyj, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, explained the situation in an interview with “The Ukrainians”: 

 “This year, around 360,000 students graduated from Ukrainian schools. Fifteen years ago, in 2008, that number reached 640,000. Basing our projections on demographics alone, which don’t account for war-related migration indicators, we see a continued decline in births in Ukraine from 17 years ago. By 2033, an estimated 300,000 students will graduate in Ukraine, assuming the territories not currently under Ukrainian control return to Ukraine.

Regarding universities, for example, in 2008, Ukraine had about 350 higher educational institutions, averaging 6,700 students per institution. By 2021, the number had decreased to 300 institutions, each with an average of only 3,400 students. The average number of students per institution for 2023 isn’t available yet, but it’s expected to be even lower.

Given this data, some reduction or consolidation of higher educational institutions is inevitable, but it’s a highly sensitive process,” says Wynnyckyj.

As you can see, some universities are indeed facing potential closure due to declining student numbers. However, this isn’t because they are “dead,” as some propagandists and their henchmen falsely claim. It’s simply that 17 years ago the birth rate was extremely low, which has logically affected the number of current graduates. And, of course, this was compounded by the impact of the war, which led many Ukrainians to move abroad.

The kremlin’s bullhorn in the United States

The Redacted channel, responsible for spreading this fake news, is run by Clayton Morris and his wife, Natali Morris. It boasts an audience of 2.35 million subscribers. To understand its growth dynamics, just five months ago, they had 2.1 million subscribers. While they position themselves as “alternative media,” for some reason or other this alternative seems to largely echo russian propaganda.

Founded in 2015, the channel has been actively promoting russian narratives over the past year. For instance, in August, we debunked their claim that “Ukrainian women, including surrogate mothers, are being held in bomb shelters and forced to use their uteruses as baby- making machines.”  

Discussing the alleged “dead students,” Natali Morris displays an article on her screen that purportedly supports this claim. We employed a quick keyword search that revealed the source of the media outlet to be RT, the russian state-owned multilingual television network known for its propaganda aimed at foreign audiences.

Interestingly, even the RT article fails to link the closure of Ukrainian universities to the alleged deaths of students in the war. Instead, it repeats the mantra about the “U.S.-backed coup in Kyiv,” which it claims “sparked Crimea’s vote to join russia and the uprising in Donbas.” RT refers to this event as “the basis of the current conflict with moscow.” They suggest that it led millions of Ukrainians to flee to russia and the EU, leaving “only 29 million Ukrainians in the country as of mid-2023.” 

The hosts of the Redacted podcast make no effort to conceal their pro-russian stance, consistently discussing events in Ukraine from an anti-Ukrainian perspective. Clayton Morris has repeatedly propagated various conspiracy theories, as highlighted by fact-checkers at VoxCheck and the NSDC Center for Countering Disinformation small logo

фактчекерка на всі крильця
Halyna Dolynna
Halyna Dolynna
editor of the English texts
01 / 01