Author Archives: Alice Allwright

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

By Hayley Snoding, International Project Officer, Global and Lifelong Learning

Kherson State University and the University of Kent have been collaborating since June 2022 as part of the UK-Ukraine Twinning Initiative. During that time we have provided support through the donation of IT and technical equipment, delivery of English classes, guest lectures and supporting the KSU online English Speaking Club and current affairs discussions.

My experience of being a part of English Club

I have been with Global and Lifelong Learning for 8 months now and one of my first projects was getting involved in our English Speaking Club with Kherson State University. I have to say I was a little apprehensive at first, who wouldn’t be? What did I know about being displaced, facing war, having to move away from family and friends, staying positive when facing such uncertainty.

What I found was inspiration and resilience from the Ukrainian students, opportunities to learn about Ukrainian culture and traditions, and even things I never knew about British history and traditions (Google has been my best friend on occasions).

I now look forward to our weekly sessions, which range from talking about books, films and fashion trends to world health, managing your finances and the path to academic success.

What the students say about English Club

I asked some of the students from Kherson State University what English Club means to them:

Maria, “I love it, I joined in 2021, before the war and during. It became quite significant as we are in different cities and locations. It is great to be whole again and not worrying about isolation. English speaking club has interesting themes and it is good to think about something pleasant and practice English. My favourite thing is it makes us a community.”

Alla, “I enjoy the intellectual exchange, discussion of interesting topics and hearing different opinions. Telling stories and jokes is a good way to unite with each other.”

Dimitro, “Very interesting conversation and good to hear from a native speaker.”

Serhii, “I love the ideas and being together. Joining makes learning and education pleasant.”

The English Speaking Club is led by Olena Stavenko, English Language Teacher at Kherson State University. Olena is always upbeat and makes every session fun and interactive. We start with an ice breaker question to get warmed up and then jump right into the topic. In the last year we have had contributions from one of Kent’s own Degree Apprentices and some of our Student Global Officers, who can offer their own insights into studying in the UK and how things differ in their own cultures.

Tuesday 28th May was our last session for this academic year as there will be a break over the summer while the Ukrainian students take their exams. I wish them all every success in their exams. But there will be an opportunity for me to meet some of them when they visit us next month. It will be wonderful to meet some of them in person.

Want to get involved?

If you are interested in taking part in one of our English Speaking Club sessions in the next academic year, and joining in the discussions, please get in touch. It is a wonderful way of broadening your own development and understanding of cultural awareness.

Email: H.Snoding@kent.ac.uk to find out more.

Further information

Global and Lifelong Learning will be hosting a networking event with staff and students from Kherson State University on Monday 17th June, 11:00-13:00. If you would like to join us, please complete the online form: https://forms.office.com/e/cTtZTkwEp6

You can also find out more about our collaboration with Kherson State University from the links below:

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)

One of our English Speaking Club sessions held on zoom.
We start each session with an ice-breaker like this one.

Kent welcomes University of Sussex to Eastern Arc

The University of Sussex has joined the universities of Kent, East Anglia and Essex to become the fourth member of the Eastern Arc research consortium.

At a ceremony at the Royal Society in London on 11 January 2024, the vice-chancellors of the four universities signed a memorandum of understanding that will support joint working in research, education, innovation, knowledge exchange, training, and equipment-sharing.

Launched in 2013, Eastern Arc has grown to be a significant regional catalyst for collaboration and cooperation, resulting in over £10m of funding for partnerships between two or more of the member institutions since 2020.

The Consortium has increasingly advocated for and led on issues of particular importance to the greater southeast of England, including coastal deprivation, food, diet and nutrition, and heritage, culture and placemaking. A series of Eastern Arc events has brought together academics and stakeholders to explore these issues, leading to reports which are helping policymakers and directing our future collaborations.

Within the universities, it has supported the development of a positive research culture, opening up training across the consortium, launching an Imaging Platform Alliance, and establishing an innovative mentoring scheme that has matched over 230 academics, technicians and professional services staff for their professional development.

‘I am excited to welcome Sussex to the consortium,’ said Phil Ward, Director of Eastern Arc. ‘The University, with its open, interdisciplinary and creative outlook, is a natural fit with us. It shares a similar geographic location and complementary research strengths but, just as importantly, it has the same ethos, encouraging interdisciplinarity and being ‘disruptive by design’’.

Professor Sasha Roseneil, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, said: ‘We are delighted to be joining the Eastern Arc research consortium. Membership of Eastern Arc means committing to advancing and energising our collaborations with three great campus-based, research-intensive universities that are both geographically close to Sussex, and that are engaged in solving some of society’s greatest challenges in order to make both our part of the UK and the wider world a better place.’

Professor Karen Cox, Kent’s Vice-Chancellor and President, commented: ‘I am delighted to welcome the University of Sussex to Eastern ARC as the consortium continues to build on its collaborative research strengths and provide new opportunities for our research staff. By working more closely together in areas of common interest we make a greater positive impact across our regions, which will be more important than ever in the years ahead.’

In 2024 the Consortium will develop its strategy for the next five years, supporting the creative, civic and impactful work of its members, and ensuring that the work of regional, dual-intensive universities plays a central role in addressing the key issues that face the country.

 

Cyber security awareness and engagement campaign

From the Welcome Week of the 2023-24 academic year, iCSS is launching a new student engagement cyber security campaign for all University of Kent students. This is a major area of activities of iCSS and the University of Kent, as a newly recognised ACE-CSE (Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education) with a Gold award status (2023-29) by the UK Government (click here to read a news article about this new achievement).

ACE-CSE

A major component of the campaign is a new Moodle space DP101010 “Cyber Security: Training, Awareness and Engagement for All Students”, which is made open for all University of Kent students to self-enroll.

This new Moodle space will be used as a “one-stop shop” for all students to learn about cyber security and other closely related topics such as online safety, cyber crime and mis-/disinformation, and to benefit from / participate in a wide range of student-facing resources / activities such as training materials and opportunities, competitions, placement and student ambassador opportunities, and a diverse range of events organised by the University of Kent and other organisations.

The moodle page has already been populated with a wide range of useful information, and we call more students to have a look and self-enroll.

Another major component of the campaign is around the newly established KMCS3 (Kent & Medway Cyber Security Student Society). The student society was piloted in the 2022-23 academic year, and has been formally established over the summer of 2023. iCSS supports KMCS3 as its financial sponsor and administrative supporter on various activities, e.g., for overseeing the operation, seeking and appointing its leaders, providing necessary funding and resources for various activities, booking rooms, recommending speakers and co-organising events.

More about KMCS3 can be found on this page in the above-mentioned Moodle space. The recruitment of members for KMCS3 has started from Monday 18th September, the first day of the Welcome Week. To register as a member of KMCS3, interested students should first visit the above-mentioned Moodle space, self-enroll and then fill the following membership registration form:

https://moodle.kent.ac.uk/2023/mod/questionnaire/view.php?id=267103

KMCS3 membership registration form in Moodle

Among many activities iCSS and KMCS3 will be co-organising, one of them is the 2023 iCSS-KMCS3 Cyber Security “Anything” Competition. This competition is based on the 2022 iCSS Cyber Security Photography Competition, which attracted many to submit photos they took to express their real-life experience about the cyberspace.

In 2023, the new competition will enlarge acceptable submissions to other categories of artefacts, including not just photos, but also drawing, short videos, essays, poems, and even physical objects such as 3-D printed objects and hand-crafted artefacts. A number of prizes will be selected at the end of the competition and Amazon e-vouchers will be awarded to prize winners.

The deadline for submission is 15 November 2023, and the prize winners will be announced before the Christmas. To learn more about the competition and to submit your work, please visit

https://cyber.kent.ac.uk/survey/index.php/168859

2023 iCSS-KMCS3 Cyber Security Anything Competition

Last but not the least, on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 September, iCSS and KCMS3 will have a stand at the Kent Union’s Welcome Fair. Please come and join us to learn more about what iCSS and KCMS3 will do for all students in the 2023-24 academic year. There will be a fun cryptographic quiz (download a PDF file of the quiz here) for all to have a try and if you are lucky you may win one or two Amazon e-vouchers each of £20!

KMCS3-iCSS Cyber Security Quiz 2023-1 in Moodle

If you have any advice on what we should do or if you are interested in helping out (e.g., contributing to KMCS3), please get in touch via cyber-info@kent.ac.uk (for iCSS) or kmcs3-leaders@kent.ac.uk (for KMCS3).

Empowering Tomorrow: Unleashing Creativity through AI – a free conference

Dr. Bogdan Vrusias from Amazon Web Services joins an exciting schedule of speeches and panel discussions at our Unleashing Creativity through Generative AI conference, Wednesday 18 October 2023 at The Sibson Building from 14:00 – 19:00. 

This free conference will showcase the latest research and applications of AI in various domains, such as health, education, business, and innovation that is taking place across the University of Kent and Amazon.  

Kent staff, students and alum are invited to join us on the Canterbury campus for the event – book your free tickets here.

The day will include talks from Amazon guest speaker, Bogdan Vrusias, as well as experts from Kent around the role and impact of AI in a number of areas including education, business and healthcare. There will also be demonstrations from Kent students who are working in AI, and from Dr Anna Gruebler, Senior AI Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS. 

By bringing together experts in the field, the event will facilitate a joined up and collaborative approach AI across researchers, practitioners, policymakers and business – minimising the risks and challenges it poses, while capitalising on the opportunities. 

The day will include talks from Amazon guest speakers as well as experts from Kent around the role and impact of AI in a number of areas including education, business and healthcare. There will also be demonstrations from Kent students who are working in AI. 

Panel Discussions 

Join our panel discussions to have your say. Each session will include short talks with a range of presenters including academics, students and professionals with an opportunity for questions and discussions with the audience.  The discussions are: 

  • Generative AI in Education 
  • Generative AI in Business & Healthcare 
  • Using Generative AI in Your Studies. 

Networking drinks and a live piano vs. AI improvisation by German pianist Dr Esther Fee Feichtner will take place in the foyer alongside stands from ASPIRE, our Employability Teams including live demo CV checks and University of Kent Computer Science Department. 

The talks will also be streamed via Teams. Find the links to join us online here.

Compassion in Action: your clothing donations are making a difference

Following our initial round of clothing collections for Refugee Week at the Kent, we were able to donate eight large bags of much-needed men’s clothing to the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG). These clothes have gone on to make a difference in the lives of detainees who have experienced hardships on their journey to safety.

Anna Pincus from GDWG highlighted the significance of providing good-quality second-hand clothes, stating:

“People are frequently detained in only the clothes they are wearing and do not have a second set of clothes. Sometimes people arrive in detention in clothes that are not dry after having crossed the channel. People may face deportation in clothes that are inappropriate for where they are being sent to. Providing good quality second-hand clothes meets practical needs and also counters dehumanisation and gives people basic dignity.”

The impact of your support can be seen through the words of those who have directly benefited from your donations. Mohammed said:

“I needed clothes and had only flip flops when I left detention. Thanks to GDWG for clothes I could not buy for myself. We are not allowed to work after detention but we need shoes and clothes.”

Ali said:

“When you have nothing, any clothes are a big gift. Thank you for helping us.”

There are still many more in need, and if you have not yet donated there is still time to make a difference.

Keep the Donations Coming

If you have any of the following clean items to spare, please consider contributing clothing:

  • Men’s trainers, especially sizes 8 and 9.
  • Men’s jogging bottoms.
  • Men’s jeans.
  • Men’s t-shirts.
  • Men’s jumpers.

Your donations can be placed in collection bins located at various spots around campus.

The Power of the Refugee Tales Trail Walk

In addition to clothing donations, we want to remind you of another impactful way you can make a difference, by learning more about the stories of refugees and asylum seekers on our Refugee Tales trail walk. On the trail you can read or listen to the real-life stories of individuals who have experienced the UK’s immigration system, offering a powerful opportunity to engage with their narratives.

The trail was launched for Refugee Week back in June, but remains in place on campus.

For more information on the trail and how you can get involved, please visit the Refugee Week webpage.

Sanctuary fund

We at the University of Kent believe that everyone should have the opportunity to study at a university irrespective of their background. We are proud that our campus is a welcoming and inclusive space for everyone.

In committing to become a University of Sanctuary in 2019, we set up Sanctuary scholarships to give three refugees and asylum seekers every year the opportunity to receive a University of Kent education. The scholarships cover a full fee waiver for an undergraduate programme as well as small maintenance grants.

 Find out more about Kent’s work to become and University of Sanctuary, and donate to the fund to empower refugee students at Kent.

Kent Law Clinic staff and students deliver advice workshop to Napier Barracks residents

Kent Law Clinic staff and students have been involved in a project to deliver legal advice workshops to asylum seekers residing at Napier Barracks, in collaboration with local charities Samphire and Napier Drop-In.

By Dr Richard Warren, Immigration Law Adviser & Lecturer, Kent Law Clinic

Since September 2020, Napier Barracks on the outskirts of Folkestone in Kent has been used to accommodate male asylum seekers, sometimes for significant periods of time. Residents at the camp come from a number of well-known refugee-producing countries including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Sudan. A recent report by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) [1] has outlined the poor living conditions which residents face, noting specifically the uncertainty faced by those who are unsure what is happening in their asylum claim. The camp was also subject to a scathing High Court judgment in June 2021 in which Mr Justice Linden was unable to accept that the accommodation there ensured a standard of living which was adequate for the health of the claimants.[2] Despite assurances by the Home Office that improvements have been made following that High Court case, the JRS report has documented continuing concerns including difficulties in accessing basic necessities including shoes and winter clothes, inadequate healthcare and barriers to accessing legal advice.

The current historic backlog in the asylum process has been widely reported, with more than a 173,000 applicants’ claims still outstanding,[3] some of whom have been waiting years for a decision. A significant number have received no legal advice since arriving in the UK – again a situation that has been well documented.[4]

As a result, individuals are receiving notices of intent to declare their claims inadmissible, with the possibility of removal to Rwanda[5] without the ability to make representations to the Home Office. The policy of declaring claims inadmissible where an individual has passed through a so-called safe third country has been in place since January 2021 when the UK left the EU and so ended its participation in the Dublin 3 Regulation.[6] In June 2022, s16 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 placed the process on a statutory footing.[7] However, that process, arguably an essential part of the government’s aim to ‘stop the boats’, cannot currently be implemented. Currently there are no returns agreements with any major countries of transit, including with any EU country. And the proposed policy of removals to Rwanda is on hold pending the outcome of an appeal against the High Court judgment last year.[8] It is therefore unsurprising that the backlog of undecided cases has risen. For those at Napier Barracks the uncertainty of knowing whether they are even going to have their asylum claim considered is clearly taking its toll.

It is against this background that the Kent Law Clinic agreed to run a legal advice session at a local drop-in centre for Napier residents in need of legal advice. The workshop provided a basic overview of the asylum system, including information on inadmissibility, the decision-making process and rights of appeal. Kent Law Clinic student volunteers assisted with interpreting. The session was well received, and the Clinic plans to run further sessions in the future.

[1] JRS-UK-Report_Napier-Barracks-the-inhumane-reality_March-2023_WEB.pdf (jrsuk.net)

[2] NB & Ors, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWHC 1489 (Admin) (03 June 2021) (bailii.org)

[3] National Audit Office report 16/6/23 https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/the-asylum-and-protection-transformation-programme.pdf

[4] 628f50a1917c740a7f1539c1_No access to justice- how legal advice deserts fail refugees, migrants and our communities.pdf (website-files.com)

[5] UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership – House of Commons Library (parliament.uk)

[6] EUR-Lex – 02013R0604-20130629 – EN – EUR-Lex (europa.eu)

[7] Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (legislation.gov.uk)

[8] AAA v SSHD Rwanda judgment.pdf (judiciary.uk)

Migrateful: supporting migrants with the power of food

Written by Katherine Moss, Senior Press Officer

As part of Refugee Week, Dora Perera, Immigration Compliance Officer at Kent, shares her experience of working with Migrateful – an award-winning UK charity with a mission to support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in their journey to integration through food.

Food is more than nutrition. When we cook we create, learn about our history, customs and discover our identity. Sharing food is sharing our inheritance, it is a language we all speak and the best medium to bridge the gap between communities.

A charity integrating refugees and asylum seekers through cooking

Migrateful was founded in 2017, seeking to use the power of food to integrate refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the UK into the community. Displacement creates ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’ labels and the most emotionally disheartening obstacle faced is long term integration. Migrants can become isolated waiting for their immigration status to be regularised, which can take years, and in some cases are unable to work or access public funds. The act of cooking, making mistakes and sitting down together to have a family-style dinner humanises the current migration narrative, opens the hearts and minds and fills the bellies of everyone involved.

Migrateful offers a 2-year development programme where migrant integration is fostered through practice of the English language, presentation training, improving self-esteem and learning of transferrable skills to use to interact with the UK community and enrich it with their culture. Refugees are supported, encouraged and trained to lead cookery classes, share their traditional cuisine and heritage to make connections. They develop menus based on their personal family recipes, share the social status behind each recipe or the cultural importance of serving a dish in certain circumstances.

Rebuilding lives, finding purpose

Many migrants who arrive in the UK due to conflict in their country were qualified professionals in HR, nursing, firefighting, lecturing or dreamed of working in the food sector. Where qualifications were not transferable or destroyed in conflict, our chefs are rebuilding their lives and finding connections and passion through sharing their country’s food. After their Migrateful ‘graduation’ they lead teams and share their experience. Once their status was regularised, some became head chefs, owners of catering companies or picked up where their education left off.

The Migrateful experience unsettles the traditional narrative of charity by inviting the contributors to learn from migrant chefs and integrate new techniques and ingredients into their daily lives. Tickets are exchanged for a journey in learning customs and breaking down barriers along the way. The food cooked in a family home in Aleppo contributes to the making of a dish in a home in Canterbury.

Dora’s experience

I come from two war-torn islands and grew up seeing the impact of war on communities; in Cyprus and Sri Lanka. When I emigrated to the UK, I specialised in immigration law and work as an Immigration Compliance Officer at the University of Kent. By day I help international students comply with the terms of their visas while realising their dreams. By night, as the Canterbury Migrateful facilitator, I advocate for impactful and far-reaching opportunities for displaced individuals. Through Migrateful, I am honoured to support asylum seekers, refugees and migrants from across the world on their journey to independence and contribute positively towards the migration discourse by encouraging an inclusive community.

Get involved: cook and support Migrateful in your area

Tickets for the cookery classes include ingredients you need to make a traditional dish with a choice from over 30 countries. In 5 years, Migrateful has hosted over 3,000 cookery classes with 30,000+ participants across London, Bristol, Canterbury and Brighton. Migrateful’s Canterbury classes are hosted at St Martin and St Paul’s CT1 – find out more about Migrateful classes.

Help these classes run: Each Migrateful cookery class relies on a small team of volunteers to run successfully. Find out more about volunteering to assist in cooking classes.

Join an online cookalong for Refugee Week!

On Wednesday 21st June, 5.30 – 7pm, UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency’s national charity for the United Kingdom) have teamed up with Migrateful Syrian refugee chef, Amani, and for an evening of culture and cuisine to celebrate Refugee Week. You can register online to join the free, virtual cooking class on Wednesday. Amani will be taking us step by step through how to make a delicious Syrian Mousakaa (Aubergine & Tomato Mezze) and Fatosh (Arabic Flatbread, Vegetable & Herb Salad).

Refugee Week at Kent

To see what’s on at the University of Kent for Refugee Week an beyond, check out our Refugee Week website for ways you can get involved and contribute, and look for #KentRefugeeWeek on social media – together, we can make a difference in our communities.

Two students talking over a desk

Paid Research Assistantship – opportunity for undergraduates

Are you an undergraduate looking for an opportunity over the summer?

We’re recruiting for a Research Assistant for a short-term summer project entitled ‘Career Conversations with Professional Service Staff’.

The project aims to shed light on career pathways and barriers for professional service staff within Higher Education (at Kent and beyond). It will give the successful candidate an insight into the various jobs that exist within Higher Education and enable them to utilise skills acquired during their degree (such as communication skills and data analysis skills).

To see the full job description and apply for the role, visit the Target Connect site.

Deadline for applications is Wednesday 23 March 2023.

JSNCC elections – New Staff Representative for Grade 7

The Chairs of the Joint Staff Negotiating and Consultative Committee, Martin Atkinson and Roger Giner-Sorolla are pleased to announce the election of Paul Cornwall-French as the new staff representative for non-union colleagues in grades 7 and above.

Paul has served as a representative previously for staff in grades 1-6 and brings a significant wealth of experience at the university to the committee.

Both Martin and Roger extend a warm welcome to Paul and are looking forward to working with him over the next three years.  The chairs would like to extend their thanks to the other nominees for coming forward and to all staff who took the time to vote.

They would also like to thank Charlotte Ransom, the outgoing representative, for her hard work in representing staff views on the committee and would like to wish her well in her new role.

The vote percentage was 48% for Paul Cornwall-French, 25% for Alastair Bailey, 20% for David Bird and 7% abstain.

Trustee and Governor Opportunities

Have you ever considered fulfilling an Education Trustee and Governance role?

We sponsor the University of Kent Academies Trust (UKAT), which is an established multi-academy trust that has two Secondary Schools in Medway:

  1. Chatham Grammar School (CG) – a selective 11 – 19 girls school with a mixed sixth form
  2. Brompton Academy (BA) – a mixed comprehensive school, with a joint sixth form across the two schools.

The Trust focuses on developing the life experience and opportunities of its students, parents, carers, staff and wider community.

If you would like further details on a UKAT Trustee role, or if you’re interested in finding out what Education Trustee and Governance role opportunities we have at our colleges and schools at Kent, please get in touch with Sam Dorey.

“Being a school governor or trustee is a fantastic opportunity to have a positive impact in our local community, build networks within our region and to develop personal skills and experience. In my time as a trustee, I have found the diverse perspectives from parents, industry leaders and educational professionals to be invaluable in broadening and deepening my understanding of the issues facing young people and our local community. I encourage anyone who is considering this to give it a go!”

Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Academic Strategy, Planning and Performance