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War in Ukraine 

(Updated 19 December 2023)

Twinning Partnership with Zaporizhzhia National University, Ukraine 

The war in Ukraine remains of immense concern to us all. As part of a large-scale twinning initiative, supported by Universities UK (UUK) and the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, we are twinned with Zaporizhzhia National University (ZNU). 

ZNU is located in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast region in the Southeast of Ukraine, close to the centre of a conflict zone.

The twinning scheme aims to provide tangible and collaborative support to Ukrainian universities in the short and medium term, and also in the long term as the country’s universities look to rebuild. The developing connection with ZNU also offers us both the opportunity to develop equitable research collaboration in specialist areas and share in experience and best practice.

A Memorandum of Understanding between Durham and ZNU underpins our partnership and enables ZNU to access additional support from both the UK and Ukrainian HE systems.

Durham University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen O’Brien, Head of the International Office – ZNU, Polina Denysenko, and Professor Sergiy Kushnir, ZNU Vice-Rector

Research and Outreach

Since our twinning, we have worked with ZNU on academic research and supported ZNU’s teaching, which is largely taking place remotely. We have discovered mutual interests in memory politics, post-conflict urban renewal, including financial implications, mental health, legal aspects of conflict, global justice and arbitration, and the challenges of internal displacement. Synergies are also developing between our Biosciences departments on crop production. Some examples of our partnership working includes:

  • The Ukrainian Talk Series, a programme of public events involving panellists from ZNU, Durham and experts from the international community, hosted by Dr Markian Prokopvych from our History department.

These hybrid events are designed to help reach out to local communities and to the Ukrainian refugee networks in the UK. Drawing on expertise from Durham, ZNU and other partners, these talks are informing the international community of the complexities of Ukraine’s history and providing opportunities to consider the global significance of the war in Eastern Europe.

Dr Markian Prokopovych, Associate Professor at our History Department, Bob Jensen, Senior Managing Director at Strat3 LLC, and Mark Pfeifle, President at Off the Record Strategies, in Durham for the panel discussion

  • In 2023, Durham secured funding from Universities UK International (UUKi) to further support our friends and colleagues at ZNU. This funding saw a range of pan-University research collaborations across law, history, geography, psychology, finance and biosciences. With a focus on building research capacity and resilience during conflict, our research project brought over 30 ZNU researchers, academics and students to Durham to take part in workshops and summer schools over the course of 2023.

A delegation of researchers, students and professional services staff from ZNU

Learn more about the research and collaboration that has been taking place.

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In late 2023, Durham welcomed Professor Olena Tupakhina, Vice-Rector for International Affairs. During the visit, Professor Tupakhina met colleagues from Durham Energy Institute, the Centre for Environmental and Economic Studies, the Institute of Advanced Study, the Institute for Hazard, Risk and Resilience and others, to explore opportunities to further enhance our research collaborations as a follow-up to the existing joint research project.

Read more here: Celebration of collaboration ZNU - Durham University


ZNU continues to deliver hybrid and remote teaching and learning to their students, and our academics are connecting with colleagues at ZNU to share educational resources, best practice and expertise. Some examples include:

  • Departments of Biosciences and Chemistry – academics in these departments shared their remote learning materials with colleagues at ZNU, helping them to continue to provide practical demonstrations to complement their own remote teaching.
  • Durham Law School connected classrooms remotely to arrange mutual guest lectures for students from both universities. Academics from Durham and ZNU are also working together on research themes such as the law of investment in reconstruction, international law and post-conflict reconstruction.

Student Mobility Scheme

We have offered ZNU ten fee-waived incoming exchange places for this academic year with seven ZNU students currently with us this term.

Wider Support

We continue to work together with ZNU to explore opportunities to build connections across both institutions, so we can share best practice in areas such as student wellbeing and support, internationalisation and student governance. Durham and ZNU professional staff are exchanging best practice on areas including branding, energy efficiency and cultural exchanges.

Our partnership and support will continue for the long-term, with further visits from researchers and staff planned, and research collaborations between Durham and ZNU.

News about our twinning

Ukraine Independence Day: we stand with Ukraine

On Ukraine Independence Day, our Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O'Brien explores how we are standing with colleagues and friends in Ukraine.
Professor Karen O'Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, stood smiling with arms folded, in front of bookshelves

A summer of research and collaboration with Zaporizhzhia National University

Over the summer, we have welcomed over 40 friends from our twinned Ukrainian university, Zaporizhzhia National University (ZNU) to Durham.
Students and researchers from ZNU at Durham Law School

Ukrainian Talk Series draws US security expert panel

The closing talk in our Ukrainian Talk Series for this academic year took place recently at the Gala Theatre in Durham, UK.
From left to right: Prof Anoush Ehteshami, Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah Chair in International Relations, Durham University Bob Jensen, Senior Managing Director, Strat3 LLC, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Dr Markian Prokopovych, Associate Professor (Modern European Cultural History), Durham University Dr Igor Kotsiuba, CAR

Durham strengthens ties with twinned Ukrainian university

The war in Ukraine remains of immense concern to us all. Today (March 29) marks the one-year anniversary of the UK-Ukraine Twinning Initiative, under which we are twinned with Ukrainian university Zaporizhzhia National University (ZNU).
Ukraine flag and logos for Durham and ZNU universities