Edinburgh Global

Educate, collaborate, unite: Our Edinburgh-Kyiv partnership

A recent conference took place to mark a key stage in our partnership.

Principal Peter Mathieson speaking at the Educate, Collaborate, Unite conference

After 18 months of hard work in building our Edinburgh-Kyiv partnership, we were delighted to unite on 28 November 2023. Connecting through Zoom in respective venues, we gathered with colleagues and friends in Edinburgh and Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (KNU) for our ‘Educate, collaborate, unite’ conference.

The purpose was to learn about how research and education links have developed, celebrate our partnership, and plan for the future.

It was attended by around 100 participants including the Consul-General for Ukraine in Edinburgh and representatives of the British Embassy in Kyiv.

Marking a key stage in our partnership

This conference also marked the conclusion of a key stage in our partnership with the “Labs4twinned research” project funded managed by Cormack Consulting and funded by Universities UK.

Since March we have developed strong research collaboration between academics and students. By using the funding across a range of research links we have established four “Twinned Research Labs” in Environmental Sustainability, Geopolitical Relations, Understanding Languages and Cultures, and Impacts of War.  

The conference heard how these have been the vehicle for nearly 30 academic and student visits to Edinburgh and to European partners, as well as delivering a wide range of joint online conferences and events.

Through this collaboration of our ‘Twinned Research Labs’, we also developed a programme of academic writing training as well as giving associated lab staff access to the University of Edinburgh Library and resources online.

Our small grants scheme has stimulated new partnerships in Physics, allowed refurbishment of twin lab research infrastructure in KNU following bombing, supported a Ukrainian teaching fellow in Edinburgh and allowed International office staff to visit Edinburgh, meet students and pursue discussions on future dual degrees.

“One of Edinburgh’s most active strategic partnerships”

We were honoured to have the conference opened by the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Professor Sir Peter Mathieson and Rector of KNU, Professor Volodymyr Bugrov. 

They highlighted the similar cultural and educational offers of Edinburgh and Kyiv and how we are natural partners in the twinning initiative, as our cities have been twinned since the 1980s. 

VP International Professor James Smith affirmed KNU as one of Edinburgh’s most active strategic partnerships globally and the value we gain from these new and exciting research links and student connections.

Our key learnings

The plenary session heard from colleagues on the amazing work of the Labs and the experiences of students as part of the NICE summer school.

Our panel discussions focused on identifying some of our key learnings from the successes including the value of face-to-face contact even in wartime, a focus on sustainable links which will last beyond the war, and the need to prioritise external funding to sustain the Twinned Research Labs. We will also continue learning from experiences, including the need for understanding cultural differences and the challenges of accommodation and visas for short-term visits to Edinburgh.

Now and in the future, we stand with KNU

We concluded with a hope that one day soon we would be able to come together in Kyiv and celebrate our partnership together, but until then all participants committed to doing all they could to build on our links into the years ahead and to continue to support KNU at this very difficult time.

Related links