Students from Ukraine, including from Swansea’s partner university in the country, were given an official welcome to Swansea at a reception on campus, where they were addressed by the Vice-Chancellor and Universities UK.
The event is the latest example of the University’s ongoing support for the country in the wake of the invasion by Russian forces in February 2022.
At the reception were the second group of 16 students from Swansea’s partner institution, Petro Mohyla Black Sea National University, in the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. This group has recently arrived and will spend a semester at Swansea. They were joined at the event by PMBSNU students already in Swansea, as well as other Ukrainian students.
Offering support to Ukrainian students is in line with the Vice-Chancellor’s statement, issued at the time of the invasion, which underlines that the University “stands with the people of Ukraine in defence of their sovereignty, independence, and democratic freedoms.”
The event was also attended by a team from Universities UK (UUK), which represents universities across the country. UUK, working with Cormack Consultancy Group, set up the twinning project linking UK and Ukrainian universities.
Swansea’s growing partnership with PMBSNU will pave the way for research collaboration, sharing online teaching and learning materials, as well as opportunities for students and staff from Ukraine to visit Swansea.
PMBSNU’s Director of International Office, Alina Iovcheva, joined the welcome online from Mykolaiv, which was undergoing bombardment. Alina urged her students to make the most of their academic and cultural opportunities at Swansea, observing that their experiences would help them to build employability skills which would remain with them for life.
The event was an important opportunity for students to meet each other, to help establish a network for Ukrainian students on campus. Academics as well as staff from the University’s support services were also at the event, which gave students a chance to find out more about Swansea and the help available to them.
Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, said in his welcome to the students:
“We are very pleased to welcome you to Swansea. We hope you will play a full part in the life of the University. We hope soon that we can also welcome your lecturers, so that we can build our collaboration in teaching and research.”
Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of Universities UK International, explained how their scheme to twin UK and Ukrainian universities came about:
“University leaders in Ukraine said they wanted support in enabling them to continue their work of teaching students. The twinning initiative came from that request and is aimed at building partnerships between UK and Ukrainian universities for the long term. There are now around 100 partnerships in action across the UK.”
Professor Lisa Wallace, Associate Dean (International), Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Science, said:
“Swansea University stands with the people of Ukraine, as the Vice Chancellor has underlined. We organised the event to show our Ukrainian students that they are a much-valued part of our university community, as well as to highlight the practical support available to them.
“We are proud to be an international university. Our Ukrainian students add to the richness and diversity of our campus community. We are fortunate to have them with us.”
Swansea University is also exploring ways of providing support for students and members of staff from other Ukrainian universities.
Members of staff at Swansea are also involved in community initiatives to support Ukraine. For example, Dr Dmitri Finkelshtein, associate professor of mathematics, is the chair of Sunflowers Wales, a non-profit community group organised by Ukrainian volunteers in Wales to support Ukrainians affected by Russia’s invasion. The group sends medical supplies, clothes and humanitarian aid twice a month to Ukraine.