An online course on Ukrainian culture and language is to be launched to help UK families hosting refugees.

The Open University (OU) will launch the course later this summer, and it says it has been developed by leading academics.

The move is part of a range of measures supported by the OU, including free online resources for Ukrainians such as English language courses and mental health support through the platform OpenLearn.

The university has waived fees for current Ukrainian students, and prospective students from Ukraine can apply for 12 sanctuary scholarship places worth £240,000.

Vice-chancellor Tim Blackman said the university is “appalled” by the situation in Ukraine and it wants to support people “in the best way we can, by providing free online learning, scholarships and financial assistance for Ukrainians as they seek refuge in the UK, as well as educational resources for UK host families”.

He added: “We believe that accessible education is a powerful tool for improving people’s lives and will continue to mobilise our resources across the university to show our support for Ukrainians.”

Minister for higher and further education Michelle Donelan said: “Our world-leading universities have always been underpinned by the core values of freedom and liberty, and so it is great to see how many have been standing united with Ukraine by throwing open their doors to students displaced by this terrible war.

“These initiatives from the Open University are a fantastic way to support those fleeing armed conflict or persecution in their home nation who need help rebuilding their lives.

“Separately, this Government has provided up to £4 million for institutions to support Ukrainian students who may be facing hardship.

“We are currently working with universities in the UK to explore what support can be given to Ukrainian universities in order to help them continue teaching their students remotely, alongside where we can go further in ensuring Ukrainian students can access finance to support their studies – with more information on this in due course.”

Mirjam Hauck, associate head of the school of languages and applied linguistics at the OU and the course lead for the programme on Ukrainian culture and language, said she hopes a community will develop between students throughout the course so learners can share experience and insights.

“As well as learning the language, course participants will find out about what Ukraine was like before the invasion, its geography, healthcare and education systems, history, and ethnic and religious diversity.

“Ukrainian will be taught via the medium of English, but some key information, such as differences between the healthcare and education systems in the UK and Ukraine, will also be available in Ukrainian, so it can be shared directly with Ukrainian friends.”

The news comes following an announcement by Oxford University earlier in May of a new fully-funded graduate scholarship scheme for Ukrainian refugees.

The scholarship will begin in the 2022-23 academic year, seeking to support highly-qualified graduates from Ukraine whose lives have been seriously disrupted by the ongoing conflict.