Twinning funds sees Ukrainian-Scottish research links strengthened

Six Scottish universities have been awarded funds made available through Universities UK International’s (UUKi) twinning initiative to support joint research with universities in Ukraine. The funding will support deeper collaborations between academia in both nations, through a series of twinning partnerships which was first created in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion in 2022.

UK International (UUKi) has today announced (29 March) funding from Research England for thirty-three twinning projects involving universities across the UK, including seven in Scotland, in an effort to mitigate the devastating impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine. A total of £4.42 million made available across the UK is funded from within a UK-Ukraine Research and Innovation grant scheme. The partnerships help fortify research capacity within Ukraine’s universities, preventing a ‘brain drain’ of academic talent and ensuring the country’s universities can play a critical role in post-war reconstruction.

In Scotland, the University of Glasgow is twinned in two separate research collaborations and the University of Edinburgh, The Glasgow School of Art, University of St Andrews, University of Stirling and the University of the West of Scotland are each twinned in one research collaboration.

The research projects cover a broad spectrum of activity, from the preservation of Ukrainian culture and art in the context of war, to research focused on improvements to Ukraine’s rail-freight service which is integral to the economy as part of Ukraine’s role as a major exporter of agricultural products.

Commenting on the research collaborations, Universities Scotland’s Convener and Principal of St Andrews University, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone said:

“The circumstances which have led to this announcement are deeply distressing but the collaborative research taking place between universities in Scotland and Ukraine is immensely practical and hopeful.

“The funding commitment is very welcome. It demonstrates an understanding both that university research is an essential part of Ukraine’s war-time infrastructure and of the role that universities will play in helping to rebuild a successful country after the war’s end.”

Today also marks the first anniversary of the “Twin For Hope” campaign, which looked to build closer partnerships between UK and Ukrainian universities in response to the humanitarian crisis. Many universities across the UK have twinned with counterparts in Ukraine, facilitating the sharing of resources and support in a collective gesture of solidarity and reciprocity to help Ukrainian institutions, staff and students.

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair of Research England, said:

“The twinning initiative provided Research England with a unique opportunity to support Ukraine researchers on the ground and we are delighted with the impact it is having on the lives of those working and studying during this exceptionally stressful time. We are thrilled this funding has provided support to a further 33 UK twinning partnerships. By supporting Ukraine’s researchers through this twining scheme, we enable them to continue their work helping to secure meaningful and long-lasting collaborations in the years ahead.”

Details of the research collaborations involving Scotland’s universities are:

  • The University of Stirling is working with Odessa State Environmental University. The two universities will work together on building expertise on enhancing and protecting water quality in post-war Ukraine.
  • The University of the West of Scotland is partnered with the Ukrainian State University of Railway Transport. The key outcome of this project is to improve rail freight transportation, alleviating pressures on food supply resulting from the war. Ukraine is one of the world leading food providers and this has been a central part of Ukraine’s economy.
  • The Glasgow School of Art is partnered with Lviv National Academy of Arts (LNAA). This project will look into the protection and conservation of LNAA’s Archive & Collection of art including an ambitious digital conservation project.
  • The University of St Andrews is involved in a partnership with National University of Ostroh Academy. This project will advance the public humanities and build cultural resilience, contributing to the task of building a sustainable, equitable future in Ukraine.
  • The University of Edinburgh will partner with Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and focus on environmental sustainability, geopolitical relations, the impact of war and understanding language and culture.
  • The University of Glasgow has been successful in two projects in this twinning partnership. The first is with Ukraine’s National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA). The project will maintain and enhance NaUKMA’s research capabilities by supporting PhDs and Early Career Researchers through dedicated training and mobility schemes, as well as providing training opportunities for academic and professional services staff.
  • The University of Glasgow is also collaborating with Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University (LNMU). Both institutions have expertise in translational prostate cancer research, including biomarkers and imaging and will establish a core transnational research group within the twinning partnerships.