Exhibition to honour lost lives of Ukrainian students held at University

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An exhibition to honour the stories of 36 Ukrainian students who were killed in the war has opened at the University’s library.

‘Unissued Diplomas’, a project started in February 2023 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, honours the memory of those who will now never graduate because of it.

More than 50 universities have hosted the worldwide exhibition, which combines both physical and digital elements, to express solidarity and support for Ukraine, with Edinburgh being the second to host in Scotland. 

The students’ stories along with portrait images of each of them will be on display, as well as their posthumous University certificates.

Volodymyr Ivashchenko, a 20-year-old who was studying Cybersecurity at the VN Karazin Kharkiv National University, is just one of the students whose story is shared. Volodymyr loved travelling and dreamed of starting his own IT company in the future. Instead, he joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the beginning of the war and subsequently died from mortar shelling while evacuating his fellow wounded soldiers.

Andriy Dalibozhko was studying at Kherson State Agrarian and Economic University. He was 23 when he and his family were all killed after being shot at by Russian soldiers while in their car.

Students featured in the Unissued Diploma exhibition

More than 6,000 Ukrainian civilians and 13,000 soldiers have been reported killed since 24 February 2022. The exact number of students among them is unknown, with losses continuing to increase.

The free exhibition is open to University staff and students until 15 December in the Library Mezzanine from 9am to 5pm.

Nataliya Bezborodova, Tutor at the University’s School of Social and Political Science and coordinator of the joint exhibition, said: “These young students with their lives ahead of them dreamt of helping their country to blossom one day. Even when the war started, some of them tried to keep up with their studies while fighting to save their homes and loved ones at the same time – something that no person should ever have to go through. Worldwide academic support for Ukraine and its citizens has been overwhelmingly evident and we will not stop continuing to show our solidarity.”

Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “The futures of so many young people have been taken away by the war in Ukraine. In telling their stories, this deeply moving exhibition helps us to celebrate and commemorate their lives, and to see them awarded the diplomas that they so rightfully deserved.”

Find out more

Unissued Diplomas project 

Postcards from Ukraine project