Celebrating the Twinning Collaboration with Kherson State University

Article by Hayley Snoding | International Projects Officer

A Heartwarming Partnership

The Global and Lifelong Learning team were delighted to welcome staff and students from Kherson State University (KSU) recently for an academic mobility visit, bespoke short-course, and tour of the University and City. This visit is a remarkable testament to the twinning collaboration between our institutions, forged in June 2022 as part of the five-year Twinning Initiative backed by the UK government, Universities UK, and Cormack Consultancy Group.

The Twinning Initiative: Fostering Solidarity and Exchange

The Twinning Initiative offers a unique opportunity for universities in the UK and abroad to promote resource sharing, cultural exchange, support, and solidarity with institutions affected by ongoing conflicts. Over the past two years, we have provided support to KSU through the donation of IT and technical equipment, delivery of English classes, guest lectures, and supporting the online English Speaking Club and current affairs discussions for KSU students and academic colleagues.

Cherishing Cultural Connections

In March 2023, an art exhibition was launched at our University to mark the opening of this collaborative partnership. KSU staff presented their remarkable book, “Chronicles of a Displaced University,” documenting their thoughts and memories of their lives relocated to a new city. This poignant exhibition served as a powerful reminder of the resilience and determination of our colleagues at KSU.

A Visit Filled with Inspiration and Hope

As we welcomed the Vice Rector, Alla Tsapiv, and a group of students from KSU in June 2024, our campus was filled with a renewed sense of hope and inspiration. During their visit, they learned about cultural awareness and leadership skills, visited various locations, and on 17 June, Kent staff and students were treated to a captivating demonstration of Ukrainian culture and an opportunity to network with the Kherson staff and students.

Vice Rector, Alla Tsapiv, reflecting on the trip, said:

“It has been a wonderful opportunity to create lovely memories and cultural opportunities. Our students were so excited to travel by plane, as some have never been on one. It has been wonderful for them to improve their English language. One of the main benefits of this partnership is the emotional stability that it provides to us.”

University colleagues and students were treated to a mesmerizing dance performance by Yevheniia Spivakovska, a Lecturer in English at KSU. Two of the students, Kateryna and Victoriia then sang in their native language, expressing their strength, resilience, and love for their homeland – a powerful reminder of the indomitable human spirit.

The event was described by staff as profoundly moving and impactive, providing a wonderful opportunity to meet the Vice Rector and forge deeper connections.

Yevheniia Spivakovska demonstrating Ukrainian dance
Kent and KSU students networking


Voices of Solidarity and Admiration

Shane Weller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation, reflecting on the networking session, shared:

“It was a great pleasure to meet with colleagues and students from KSU at the networking session on 17 June. We had the opportunity to see traditional dancing and listen to some very moving songs, as well as to learn more about how staff and students at KSU have coped with the impact of the war. It was an incredibly moving event, and listening to the students tell of their experiences, and of how the collaboration has helped them, was a powerful reminder of the difference that the University can make. I very much look forward to our continuing this very important collaboration.”

Hilary Edridge, Head of Philanthropy and Alumni Relations, expressed her profound admiration:

“Meeting the staff and students from KSU was profoundly inspiring. Hearing about their unwavering resilience in the face of unimaginable adversity is a testament to the indomitable human spirit. Their stories are not just ones of survival but of courage and hope.”

Anthony Manning, Dean for Global and Lifelong Learning, echoed these sentiments:

“We feel so lucky to have been twinned with KSU, and we’re so pleased that you have been able to visit us. Your strength and determination continue to impress and inspire us.”

A Poignant Reminder and Heartfelt Gratitude

This event, held as part of the Refugee Week events, served as a stark reminder that the devastation continues, and we offer our heartfelt thanks to the staff and students from KSU whose generosity and appreciation of the support offered by our University are clear to see. Their resilience and determination in the face of adversity are truly inspiring, and we are honoured to continue this important collaboration, fostering solidarity, cultural exchange, and hope for a better future.

If you would like further information on our relationship with Kherson State University you might also like to see the following:

English Speaking Club – A collaboration with Kherson State University, Ukraine

Twinning Voices – KSU & Kent – YouTube

Kent and Kherson State (Ukraine) universities sign historic twinning agreement

“Art Against War” Exhibition at Kent: An exhibition of art by students and graduates from Ukraine’s Kherson State University (KSU)