On 23 November 2023, a kick-off meeting of the consortium members of the project "Academies4Ukraine – Strengthen Higher Education resilience in Ukraine and the European Union" (Erasmus+ Programme KA220-HED – Higher Education Cooperation Projects) took place in Offida (Italy). Pavlo Tychyna Uman State Pedagogical University was represented at the event by Iryna Kyryliuk, Associate Professor of the Technology and Organisation of Tourism and Hotel and Restaurant Business Department, and Olena Halai, Senior Lecturer at the English Language and Methods of Teaching Department.
The purpose of the visit was to discuss additional steps to achieve the project's goals, in particular:
- Sharing best practices of psychological support for displaced students at Ukrainian universities;
- Creation and distribution of the documentary film "Stories of Academic Resilience in Ukraine";
- Publishing an electronic manual "How to implement a university programme of psychological support for students".
The foreign partners – the University of Helsinki and Riga Technical University – shared their experience in supporting Ukrainian IDP students and their adaptation to the new environment, provided examples of successful practices and stressed the importance of cooperation and sharing resources to jointly address the problems related to youth reintegration. Representatives of Ukrainian universities – Odesa National Technological University, Pavlo Tychyna Uman State Pedagogical University, Kherson State University - demonstrated the work of their institutions in the war zone, highlighting the challenges they faced and the measures they took to adapt and develop in such difficult conditions. An important part of the meeting was the recording of extended interviews with the project participants for the upcoming documentary film to demonstrate the unique experience of Ukrainian universities in preserving and developing higher education in wartime, to emphasise the strength of spirit and mutual support that defines the academic community of Ukraine in the most difficult moments. The film is intended not only to serve as a testament to an important period in the history of Ukrainian higher education, but also to inspire other countries to support and develop it in extraordinary circumstances. The Mayor of Offida, Luigi Massa, and one of the main stakeholders in the region, Marche Walter Bartolomei, who attended the meeting, expressed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people and stressed the importance of the international community's unity in supporting Ukraine in its struggle for peace and stability. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Academis4Ukraine project coordinator Gianluca Vagnarelli for her warm welcome, support and interest in making Ukrainian universities stronger.
This meeting has become an important platform for discussing topical issues related to ensuring the sustainability and development of Ukrainian higher education in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war.