A Ukrainian university says the support and show of solidarity it has received from Leicester’s De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been ‘priceless’ as it deals with the emotional strain of the war against Russia.
The West Ukrainian National University (WUNU) has entered a twinning agreement with DMU which will involve academics and staff collaborating in areas such as Economics, Law, International Relations and Cybersecurity.
The two universities will work on running diploma programmes, joint courses, co-authored papers, summer schools, further collaborations with the wider academic communities including the DMU library and bringing students together from both Leicester and Ternopil, a major city of about 225,000 people where the WUNU campus is based.
The impact of the twinning for the academics, students and staff of both universities cannot be underestimated they say.
Uliana Koruts, Head of the International Office WUNU, said: “None of us had imagined, not even in our most vicious nightmares, that Ukrainians would live and die at the whims of someone’s military ambitions.
“The full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine has affected all areas of our lives. Truthfully, it is a daily challenge to maintain emotional and psychological fortitude to keep being a productive member of the society.
“It is, however, easier to do when you understand that you are not alone. Now, more than ever, the helping hand of a foreign partner is invaluable to our continued fight, on and off the battlefield.”
The twinning agreement was officially signed at a virtual ceremony by DMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Katie Normington and WUNU’s First Vice Rector Mykola Shynkaryk along with their Vice-Rector for International Relations Oksana Desyatnyuk.
Jo Cooke, Executive Director of Student and Academic Services at DMU, who helped bring together the twinning agreement and was at the signing ceremony, said: “DMU is proud to be twinned with the West Ukrainian National University.
“We know from experience how beneficial partnerships are to our students and staff, offering them opportunities to share their skills in research, teaching and learning with fellow institutions and businesses around the globe.
“DMU is particularly pleased to be twinning with WUNU. It is an honour to be able to reach out and show our support to a university caught up in the war with Russia and let them know they are not alone.
“There is much to learn from WUNU, not just academically, but from their community’s incredible show of resilience and determination to continue overseeing the education of 1000s under such terrible circumstances.
“We look forward to working with WUNU and are eager to see the day when peace returns to Ukraine and we can meet and share our ideas in person.”
The twinning agreement is part of a wider plan by the Cormack Consultancy Group to get universities to team up with institutions in Ukraine, offering a show of solidarity and a helping hand. CCG has worked with universities in the UK and overseas or the past 22 years to help develop international strategies.