Reading Room, Cambridge University Library.

Researchers from Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine are spending a month in Cambridge during the summer as the latest cohort in a hospitality scheme dedicated to giving international scholars access to the University’s world-class resources.

Over the years, the hospitality scheme has supported outstanding scholars who are often deprived of resources in their own countries.

Rory Finnin

The seven visiting academics are conducting groundbreaking research projects in an array of fields, ranging from physics to architecture.  Over the course of their stay, they will have the opportunity to advance their work by using all the facilities the University has to offer, with mentoring from specialists based in Cambridge.

The Cambridge Colleges’ Hospitality Scheme, which is also supported by the Open Society Foundation, was first launched in 1986 to foster scholarly exchange between Cambridge academics and researchers from developing nations.  Every year researchers from selected countries are invited to apply, and preference is given to applicants who have not had the opportunity to work or study in Britain before.

Since the initiative began, it has maintained strong links with countries in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the former Soviet Union.  More recently, with funding provided by the British Council, it welcomed applications from researchers in Basra, Baghdad and Mosul in Iraq.

In each case, researchers are hosted, free of charge, by a participating Cambridge College and are given a small living allowance.  They can use their stay in Cambridge as they wish – working on scholarly articles or a book, developing new teaching programmes for their home universities, or building new working relationships with other academics. Specialists based at the University provide direct mentoring for each project.

Rory Finnin, Chair of the Cambridge Committee for Russian and East European Studies and a mentor in the scheme, said: “The Hospitality Scheme is a critical initiative that demonstrates that we take the responsibility of international leadership seriously.  Over the years, it has supported outstanding scholars who are often deprived of resources in their own countries.”

Yakiv Bystrov, Head of the Department of English Philology at Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University in Ukraine, is using his stay at Murray Edwards College to advance a research project in the field of cognitive poetics entitled “Modelling the Worldview of the Author in Narrative Fiction”. “I am sincerely grateful to the staff and fellows of Murray Edwards College for making my stay possible,” Bystrov said. “My mentor Raphael Lyne in particular offered me wonderful occasions for dialogue.”

The Cambridge Colleges’ Hospitality Scheme is supported by a group of Cambridge colleges, led by Robinson College, which administers and coordinates the application and placement process.

Professor David Yates, Warden of Robinson College, said: “This is the Scheme’s 26th year.  We now hope to grow our consortium of participating colleges even further, to ensure that this proud legacy is truly a lasting one.”

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