County university working on twinning with Ukrainian colleagues

Academics from a county university are working with Ukrainian colleagues on a twinning programme.

Harper Adams is working on a twinning arrangement with a Ukrainian university
Harper Adams is working on a twinning arrangement with a Ukrainian university

A team from the Newport-based Harper Adams university are linked with the Odessa National Academy of Food Technology, based at the Odessa National University of Technology (ONUT).

The partnership is part of a wider initiative driven by Universities UK and the Cormack Consultancy Group alongside Ukrainian institutions.

It was the focus of a conference this week at which it was announced 79 UK institutions have already twinned with a Ukrainian counterpart.

Vivienne Stern MBE, Director of Universities UK International, said: “We are delighted that the government is putting its weight behind this extraordinary scheme, through which 79 UK universities have paired up with Ukrainian universities to help them to continue to operate, helping them teach remotely, hosting their staff and students on UK campuses, providing library access and equipment, and supporting the continuation of Ukrainian research activity.

“These are significant and long-term commitments, and the solidarity shown between universities in the UK and Ukraine has been remarkable and inspiring to witness.”

Professor in Food Biotechnology Frank Vriesekoop is among the Harper Adams academics who have been working with Ukrainian colleagues.

He said: “The overall idea is to see whether UK universities can help out universities in the Ukraine through interactions related to both teaching and research, but also assist in potential staff development opportunities for staff in Ukraine.

“The current armed conflict is hindering the development and progression of academic staff in Ukraine.”

Activities are already underway linking the two universities, with Harper Adams staff judging student work in the ONUT ‘Black Sea Science’ competition and examining how the Ukrainian staff can take part in the upcoming fifth symposium on Agri-Tech Economics for Sustainable Futures in September at Harper Adams this year.

The conflict in Ukraine has also thrown a new light on research which Professor Vriesekoop had been carrying out internationally, looking at the availability and pricing of gluten free foods.

He explained: “With my colleague at ONUT we extended that notion – and we are essentially looking at the availability and pricing of gluten free foods in an active conflict zone.

“I am also working with some other ONUT colleagues from their food analysis group on them authoring a book chapter on vitamin B5, for a book that I am a co-editor on.”

Among other avenues being explored under the link between Shropshire and Odessa are the provision of shared teaching materials and online short courses and staff and student exchanges – with a hope of bringing some ONUT staff and students to Harper Adams this year.

Professor Vriesekoop added: “Personally, I have found the interactions very easy and professional.

“I found that the ONUT staff members do not want to be pampered, but they would like to get equal opportunities to continue their academic development – opportunities the current armed conflict is stifling.”

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