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Meet our new partners in Ternopil, Ukraine

08 Jul 2022

Oksana Shevchuk from Ternopil National Medical University introduces her university and city

Professor Oksana Shevchuk

This week we announced a partnership with the Ivan Horbachevsky Ternopil National Medical University (TNMU) in Western Ukraine to support medical students whose studies have been disrupted by the conflict with Russia.

Our University will provide academic support and training and will also be sharing teaching and learning materials.

To find out more about our new partners and the city in which they are based, we contacted Professor Oksana Shevchuk, Head of the Research and Internationalisation Office who kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

Hello Oksana, please tell us about TNMU.

Hello and my best greetings!

Ternopil National Medical University is a medical school in the west of Ukraine founded in 1957. Since that time, it grew from an institute with only a medical faculty to academy, then state university and, finally, – national university (awarded in 2019). It is a state educational institution and a centre of biomedical research. We have about 7,000 students, including 2,500 international students from 56 countries, studying medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, paramedic science and public health as well as postgraduate studies. Our university is a modern and friendly educational space.

Unfortunately, we do not know how many students and lecturers will stay with us due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Can you describe the city of Ternopil to us?  

It is a cosy and green place, where all facilities are very close. You can find here a number of good cafes and restaurants with tasty cuisine, not only Ukrainian. Ternopil was awarded “Youth Capital of Ukraine”in 2020. Besides TNMU, there are three other universities and several higher colleges here.

It is located on the banks of the Seret River. The first mention of our city is 1540. During World War II, the city was almost ruined. So, most buildings are dated to the second part of the 20th century and later. 

Ternopil Pond is a beautiful natural attraction for tourists and citizens, located in the very centre of Ternopil.  

How has the invasion of your country affected day-to-day life at the University?

On February 24, 2022, Russia started the full-scale war, which actually began in 2014, when we lost Crimea and part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Today, roughly 20 percent of Ukraine is under Russian occupation, all peaceful cities of Ukraine are under Russian missile and bomb attacks, and tens of thousands of civilians have died. It impossible to talk about it without tears.

The west of Ukraine became the shelter for internally displaced persons. Some of them had to flee the war for the second time. As of today, we are experiencing air alarms sirens mostly. Ternopil accepts Ukrainians from the east, north and south from the zones of active combats, and the number of citizens increased by 2-2.5 times compared to the period before the war.  TNMU has hosted internally displaced persons in our dormitories free of charge since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

Talking about study in TNMU, we were forced to return to online teaching and learning like during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we have online classes and work remotely. All foreign students were evacuated.

We are happy to twin with The University of Manchester, one the most progressive and successful institutions in the UK. I am sure that it will help us to maintain and enhance high standards of clinical teaching for our students. 

How are your staff and students using their knowledge to help?

In daily life, except teaching and studying, our students and staff volunteer to bring victory closer as soon as possible. A Volunteer Centre was created at TNMU to coordinate all efforts. We are sending medicines and medical supplies to the hospitals, military hospitals, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, territorial defence forces; and helping temporarily displaced persons in Ternopil.

We have organised ‘First aid in combat zone/under martial law’ courses for civilians, policemen, and firefighters . TNMU has the capacity to provide such types of courses guided by certified instructors of the European Resuscitation Council from TNMU staff. The university’s simulative centre is well equipped with the required devices. Almost 2,500 people have participated in our courses.

Our clinical practitioners volunteer in Digital Clinic for Ukraine – a free-of-charge online health service. Our Department of Psychiatry work without holidays to support the mental health of citizens, internally displaced persons and our soldiers, who are treated in local hospitals. Our dentists provide free dental care to defenders and refugees.

We are trying to do our best in this situation. 

We appreciate very much the help and support of our partners and friends from the UK, German Ukrainian diaspora, Poland, Italy and many others.

What is your job at the University and what does it involve?

I am a professor in the Department of Pharmacology of TNMU. We teach students in the faculties of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy, nurses, paramedics and PhD students.

I am also the Head of the Research Office. We work on internationalisation of TNMU research activities, looking for partners for collaboration and joint projects, including joint applications for financing from different fund and sources.

What is the best thing about working at TNMU?

I meet very different people from diverse spheres and areas. It is inspiring and exciting work, which helps me to experience very different situations and forces me to grow and develop.

How are you hoping that our new partnership will develop?

The Twinning initiative supported by Cormack Consultancy Group and Universities UK is a strong message of support for Ukrainian higher educational institutions. It is priceless in times when we are facing the horrible consequences of the Russian war in Ukraine.

I hope for a long-term strategic partnership with The University of Manchester. It will be helpful in internationalisation of Ternopil National Medical University in many areas, including educational programs, curricula, and joint research projects. And I believe it will enrich Manchester's medical expertise too.

Some quick questions:

Apart from TNMU, what is Ternopil most famous for?

I think Ternopil Pond is the most famous thing in Ternopil, a lot of good and not-expensive cafes and restaurants, and, definitely, many green parks for nice walks. Before the war Ternopil was full of domestic and international students. 

What’s your favourite place to go in Ternopil?

It’s a good question, actually. Here in Ternopil there are a lot of favourite places to go for sports and leisure, and only company is crucial to feeling happy and joyful. 

What should a visitor to the city eat and drink, and where?

I mentioned already that you can find numerous good places you can go to eat in Ternopil. It will depend on your taste. Ukrainian cuisine – Khutir restaurant, Staryi Mlyn, Faine Misto; Georgian cuisine – Noiv Kovcheg; cosy coffeehouses (I like KarmaKava a lot); sushi – at Medusa.

Local domestic live beer is crafted in Ternopil as Opillia.

I hope one day you will come to Ternopil in person and investigate Ternopil places by yourself. We are happy to host our guests.  

Who is the most famous person from Ternopil, past or present?

Ternopil region became a motherland for many notorious persons in Ukraine and Europe. I can mention one of the brightest opera stars Solomiya Krushelnytska. She was recognized as the most outstanding singer in the world. One more name – Ivan Puluy, inventor of x-rays, scientist-physicist and electrotechnician.

TNMU is named after Ivan Horbachevsky – the first Ukrainian who was the Rector of Charles University in Prague. He was a Member of the Sanitary Council of the Czech Kingdom, Member of the Highest Health Council of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Vienna, a Life Member of Lords’ House of Austrian Parliament, the first Minister of Health of Austro-Hungarian Empire, Rector of the Free Ukrainian University in Prague, Member of the Ukrainian University of Sciences, and many other positions.

In terms of living celebrities, I would like to mention Ivan Marchuk – a contemporary Ukrainian painter, who was included in the One Hundred Geniuses of Today, compiled by the Daily Telegraph.