Durham University twinned with Zaporizhzhia University in Ukraine

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Durham University has been matched with Zaporizhzhia National University (ZNU) in Ukraine, as part of an initiative that sees UK universities being twinned with Ukrainian universities. 

In an email to all students, the University’s European Crisis Planning Group (ECPG) explained that the scheme’s aims are “to mitigate the impacts of the conflict by offering tangible support to Ukrainian universities, both in the short term, but also in the long term as the country’s universities look to rebuild”.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Durham and the ZNU in a national event on Tuesday (28th June), in which Durham hopes will “underpin our partnership” between the two institutions, as well enabling the ZNU to access additional support from both the UK and Ukrainian Higher Education systems. A follow up meeting was also held between Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O’Brien and ZNU’s First Vice-Rector, Professor Olekander Bondar, on Wednesday (29th June). 

Founded in 1930, the ZNU contains 12 faculties with more than 17,000 students and 2,000 staff at the institution. It is only 25 miles away from the main conflict zone being located in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast region in Southeast Ukraine. With all teaching currently being conducted online, ZNU’s buildings are currently being used as a humanitarian hub for the distribution of aid, along with absorbing two Ukrainian universities from areas now occupied by Russia. 

The twinning is a part of a large-scale initiative supported by Universities UK (UKK) and the Ukrainian Ministry of Education. The scheme has seen 71 partnerships being signed between British and Ukrainian universities, with most Russell Group universities taking part in scheme.

“A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Durham and the ZNU in an national event on Tuesday”

The ECPG also highlighted in their email to students that support remains available for displaced students and academics. This includes a scheme that was decided on the 31st May that would offer annual Sanctuary Scholarships to support students displaced by conflict, after many students affected by the war raised concerns about how they would continue to attend the University in light of the invasion.

Meanwhile, a review of applications is also underway for four PhD Studentships based on the themes of the UN Year of Peace and Trust. The ECPG also highlighted the University Honorary and Visiting Titles Policy, under which “Visiting Academics may be based at Durham University for a defined period, with access to the library and other resources”. 

The University had already announced support for academics affected by the invasion through partnership with the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), along with plans to explore the possibility of further employment opportunities in partnership with the Department of Work and Pensions. 

The ECPG also praised the way the University community responded to the conflict saying “We would like to thank everybody who has played a part supporting our humanitarian effort, whether through organising a craft sale at Durham Market and raising money in other ways, coordinating van supplies to be taken to Poland, and raising awareness through public talks”.

Durham University said in a previous statement that “The war in Ukraine is of immense concern. We are an international University with a deep commitment to social responsibility and democratic values. We strongly condemn any acts of aggression and specifically the attack on Ukraine being carried out by the Russian government and armed forces. Our thoughts are with all Ukrainian Citizens, especially those who have lost loved ones in this humanitarian disaster. 

“As an inclusive community, we recognise that people across our University will be affected in many different ways. We would like to express our sorrow and sympathy for the Ukrainian people and all caught up in the conflict. We know that members of our community will continue to treat one another with respect, even in these deeply distressing times”.

Image Credit: Kornukov via Wikimedia Commons

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