University of South Wales is twinned with Ukrainian university

Kharkiv State Academy of Physical Culture Ukraine

The University of South Wales has signed a formal agreement with the Kharkiv State Academy of Physical Culture, in Ukraine, to offer support and show solidarity to academics and students affected by the ongoing conflict.

USW has joined more than 70 other universities across the UK who are partnering with institutions in Ukraine as part of the Twin For Hope campaign, run by Universities UK. The scheme is designed to facilitate the sharing of resources and support in a collective gesture of solidarity and reciprocity to help Ukrainian institutions, staff and students.

As part of the agreement, both USW and the Academy will explore long-term mutually beneficial collaborations. USW academics in Health, Sport and English language have already begun sharing good practice and efforts are now underway to invite academics and students from Kharkiv to visit USW in 2023.

USW is one of only two Welsh institutions to be awarded University of Sanctuary status, and has already been working in partnership with the Welsh Refugee Council and Rhondda Cynon Taff Council to provide English language courses for refugees from across the world who are resettled in the borough. This work has helped staff to develop expertise in delivering English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) while enabling USW student teachers to gain experience of designing and delivering language classes.

Dr Ben Calvert, Vice-Chancellor of USW, said: “We are proud to be twinning with Kharkiv State Academy of Physical Culture, and standing by our colleagues in Ukraine during an incredibly difficult time for the country. This agreement aims to provide long-term support towards rebuilding Ukraine’s higher education sector, by creating relationships that will make a real difference.”

Dr Mike Chick, USW’s Refugee Champion, added: “By being part of the Twin for Hope campaign, we are building on the work we have been doing to support refugees in our community. In addition to providing English language courses to families, we are now seeking to fund scholarships to support a number of displaced Ukrainian academics to complete their studies or continue their research at the University, as part of our bespoke CARA (Council for At Risk Academics) Fellows initiative. These scholarships will be in addition to those we offer to people seeking sanctuary from war or persecution from any country in the world.

“USW is extremely proud of its University of Sanctuary status, but we know there is still much work to be done. The efforts made by staff across the University to remove the barriers to study, and to ensure a culture of welcome, belonging and possibility provide hope and a future for the students involved. The moral, ethical, humanitarian, and economic arguments for ensuring people seeking sanctuary get access to education cannot be overstated.”