Letter of the Ambassador of Ukraine in Italy to Academies4Ukraine project consortium

Message from the Ambassador of Ukraine to Italy H.E. Yaroslav Melnyk to the participants of the kick-off meeting of the “Academies4Ukraine” project held in Offida, Le Marche region, on November 23rd 2023.

Dear participants and organizers,

Ukraine’s higher education system, like the other spheres of the country’s life, has suffered severe losses and destruction due to the new phase of war initiated by Russia against Ukraine on February 24, 2022. For two years before the invasion began, the education and science sector functioned under pandemic conditions and restrictions related to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Even before these events, the main issues on the agenda were and remain to this day: the reform of the higher education system, the implementation of the norms of the Ukrainian law “On Higher Education” in its new wording, the establishment of a system of the quality control of higher education in accordance with the standards of the Bologna Process, etc.

After the beginning of Russia’s large-scale military aggression against Ukraine, the situation in Ukraine’s higher education became even more complicated. The educational process has been suspended, many buildings of Ukrainian educational institutions have been destroyed or damaged, and participants in the educational process are in different conditions, often outside Ukraine, some still in temporarily occupied territories. The system of science and universities of Ukraine, as in 2014 after the occupation of Crimea and the beginning of hostilities in the Donbas area, was faced with the problem of relocation of educational institutions to territories controlled by the Ukrainian government. All this made it necessary to adapt the educational process to the new circumstances. These are, in broad outlines, the challenges Ukraine’s higher education system is facing today.

That is why projects such as “Academies4Ukraine” have a special importance and value. But not only that, as academic solidarity can become a vehicle for innovation and building lasting ties between European and Ukrainian institutions in the future as well, first of all given Ukraine’s path on the road to Eurointegration. In addition, the project fosters cultural, interpersonal exchange and mutual understanding. By joining forces, universities can leverage their strengths to address complex challenges and promote meaningful change.

This is confirmed by today’s high attendance of Ukrainian scholars and faculty at the event. By working together on educational initiatives, both countries can build trust, promote scientific diplomacy and establish lasting partnerships.

In conclusion, I would like to express the Ukrainian Embassy’s heartfelt thanks to i-strategies and its founder Gianluca Vagnarelli for support, commitment and solidarity with Ukraine, for your work of establishing partnerships between Ukrainian and Italian universities.

We look forward with determination to this path that will see us working together for a better future by promoting academic solidarity as a catalyst for positive change.

Thank you and good work to all!