Year in Review: The HSRW Life Sciences Faculty and Charkiv Summer School Collaboration

Enabling cross-border learning in times of uncertainty

As we look back at the end of the year, we reflect on the initiatives that have made a difference. Among these, the collaboration between HSRW's Life Sciences Faculty and the Charkiv Biotechnology School stands out as a beacon of hope and progress in challenging times.

1. A group of students attentively listening to a lecturer explaining in a laboratory setting.
petri dish

In times when armed conflict is an ongoing reality, the collaboration between HSRWs Life Sciences Faculty and the Charkiv Biotechnology School portrays the common efforts of the DAAD and our faculty to offer enhanced learning possibilities to students in Ukraine.

 The Collaboration

This partnership not only supports hybrid and on-site courses but also introduced an innovative Summer School in 2023.

Summer School 2023: A Blend of Hybrid and On-Site Learning

During the recent Summer Semester, Charkiv students and lecturers joined HSRW’s program, exploring diverse Bioengineering courses and earning accredited ECTS.

On-Site Summer School Experience

An on-site Summer School, carefully designed with input both from HSRW and Charkiv lecturers integrated practical content from different courses, including Applied Microbiology and Industrial Bioengineering. 16 biotechnology students and 4 lecturers traveled from Charkiv to Kleve for a 2-week stay, offering them a chance to improve their practical skills in the laboratory and to experience a new country and culture.

Student Testimonials

"This year I took part in the summer school, in Rhein-Waal university. I really liked this experience, every day we walked and saw local sights, our student buddies took us to different cities, we made many exciting experiments in the laboratories. I’m really delighted, because there’s a war in Ukraine now and we don’t go to laboratories, in Germany we studied for two weeks, this is really valuable for us. Thank u, it was a great time!" – Olena Zorik, 4th semester Biotechnology student from Charkiv.

Innovative Learning: The Role of Smart Glasses

"Smart glasses made a big difference in our hybrid learning. In Professor Fensterle’s labs, we are trying out these glasses as live help during lab courses through the SmartLabOER project. Although we are still working on fully integrating them, during the Summer School we used them to record real-time lab sessions for students who could not be there in person. This meant students could talk about their work based on the videos. While it does not replace actual hands-on lab work, it definitely adds a new way for students to join in and interact compared to just watching recorded sessions."

Looking back ahead

As we conclude this year, we celebrate the success of the HSRW and Charkiv collaborative Summer School. This initiative has not only provided valuable educational experiences but also fostered international cooperation and cultural understanding in challenging times. We look forward to continuing and expanding such fruitful collaborations in the future.


Interview with Olena Zorik

Olena Zorik, one of the summer school students was happy to share some points of her experience with us:

Faculty Life Sciences: What motivated you to participate in the on-site summer school in Kleve?

Olena Zorik: I decided to take part in the summer school in Kleve because it is a great opportunity to see how students study in other countries, see the equipment in laboratories and gain new knowledge. 

Faculty Life Sciences: Can you share a memorable experience from the 10 day laboratory course in Kleve? 

Olena Zorik: The most memorable experience in the lab course was the determination of the ptc receptor phenotype and genotype. I spoke about this in my final presentation!

Faculty Life Sciences: What was the most exciting or challenging aspect of the hands-on activities?

Olena Zorik: I think that the most exciting and interesting aspect was using the smart glasses during the lab, it was unusual experience for me.

Faculty Life Sciences: Living in Kleve for 11 days must have been memorable. What are the main differences compared to what you are used to in your laboratories at your University in Charkiv?

Olena Zorik: Yes, this 11 days in Kleve were really memorable. The equipment in the Rhein-Waal university is more modern and more variety than in our university in Ukraine, but in general the same.

Faculty Life Sciences: What do you remember of your experience with the Smart Glasses?  Would you like to use them more often in your laboratories?

Olena Zorik:  In my opinion the smart glasses is a breakthrough in science. I’ve never seen anything like this before. I think it’s really useful, but you need a time to get used to them. Of course I want to use this device in our laboratories.