UK and Ukrainian universities cement relationships in twinning scheme  

71 partnerships have been signed twinning Ukrainian and UK institutions, in a bid to offer invaluable assistance to universities and students alike

A signing ceremony has been held to mark the overwhelming response to a scheme twinning universities in the UK and Ukraine.

Seventy-one partnerships have been confirmed since Cormack Consultancy Group and Universities UK International launched the initiative, with UK institutions signing up to partner directly with their Ukrainian counterparts for a minimum of five years.

A further eight partnerships are reportedly nearing formal agreement.

The 28 June ceremony – held to coincide with Ukrainian Constitution Day – saw 100 academics and university leaders convene to celebrate the scheme, with 24 institutions signing a formal partnership.

The same day, the UK government announced a further round of measures to help Ukraine’s academic community.

It has been hugely important to me to help me continue my studies at this time – Kateryna Zhuk, Ukrainian student

Besides £190,000 of financial assistance to support the twinning initiative, it pledged a further £9.8 million to the Researchers at Risk scheme, established with an initial £3 million in March to help more than 130 Ukrainian scientists and other researchers continue their work in the UK.

The UK-Ukraine partnerships include a breadth of practical assistance, including:

  • Helping to physically rebuild Ukrainian campuses
  • Mutually recognising credits, enabling English-speaking Ukrainian students to take online courses from UK universities that count towards their final degree
  • Allowing Ukrainian teaching and research to continue in UK laboratories and classrooms
  • Sharing academic resources, such as libraries and technical equipment
  • Preserving Ukrainian archives in UK institutions, as well as facilitating more cultural and language exchange opportunities
  • Sharing mental health support, particularly for Ukrainian staff and students suffering from conflict-derived post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Allowing Ukrainian students to catch-up on missed learning at summer schools hosted in UK institutions 

More broadly, it is hoped that the scheme will help mitigate any potential ‘brain drain’, helping Ukraine’s universities to not only survive the conflict, but putting them in a position to play a critical role in post-war reconstruction.

Short film on some of the partnerships signed to date

Kateryna Zhuk, a sixth-year student at Sumy State University, is among those to benefit from the twinning scheme.

“I have incredible impressions from my participation in the summer school at the University of Liverpool, enjoying the daily modules, excursions and social activities with other students from around the world,” she said.

“I am also impressed with the accommodation provided by the university, with comfortable rooms on campus with all the amenities I need. The lecturers at the summer school deserve particular mention, they are very friendly and positive.

“I am lucky to study here and it has been hugely important to me to help me continue my studies at this time – I will be able to use this experience back at Sumy State University and my future professional activity.”

As previously reported in these pages, the HE sector has been trying to help Ukrainian peers in a number of ways. April saw the launch of a UK fellowship scheme for academics from the country, while in May the universities minister announced support for Ukrainian students including £4 million of hardship funding, extended access to HE student support, and tuition fee caps.

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