Sponsorship opportunities for researchers at risk

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Head of Division Philipp Schwartz Initiative and Academic Freedom
Frank Albrecht

Programme Officers Philipp Schwartz Initiative
Katja Machacsek, +49 228 833 182
Katrin Schlemme, +49 228 833 166
Svetlana Strobel, +49 228 833 409
Karin Ziegner, +49 (0)228 833 162

Fax: +49 228 833 114

For Press Inquiries
Phone: +49 228 833 144

The programmes and initiatives presented here specifically target researchers at risk.

To search for funding opportunities for students, please turn to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Moreover, many universities have also launched their own programmes.


Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF)

One of the most high-profile, largest funding providers for researchers at risk is the Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF). It awards one-year partial fellowships to enable researchers under threat to stay at universities and research institutions worldwide. The fellowships may be extended for a further year. IIE-SRF helps both researchers and research institutions to make contact. For more information visit: http://www.scholarrescuefund.org/scholars

Baden-Württemberg Fund for Persecuted Scholars

In cooperation with the Scholar Rescue Fund, the Baden-Württemberg Fund provides fellowships for researchers under threat, allowing them to continue their academic activities at universities and research institutions in Baden-Württemberg. For more information visit: https://www.bwstiftung.de/de/programm/baden-wuerttemberg-fonds-fuer-verfolgte-wissenschaftler

Scholarship Programme of the State of Bremen for At-Risk Scholars

The State of Bremen supports young scientists whose scientific work in their home country is endangered due to persecution and threats. Through grant funding, the senator enables these scientists to continue their research at the University of Bremen. For more information visit https://www.uni-bremen.de/en/research/support-for-researchers/calls/fellowship-programme-for-at-risk-scholars/

Scientific Integration Initiative

To make it easier for refugees to enter the labour market, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Leibniz Association, the Max Planck Society and the Helmholtz Association have launched a joint initiative. The various institutes and centres offer different sponsorship opportunities, including work experience, trainee positions and jobs as student research assistants. For more information please contact the individual regional institutes and centres.

Academy in Exile

Academy in Exile offers scholars who are threatened in their home countries because of their academic or civic engagement for human rights, peace and democracy the opportunity to resume their research abroad. Academy in Exile was founded in 2017 as a joint initiative of the Institute for Turkish Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) Essen and the Forum Transregionale Studien Berlin. It awards scholars with long-term fellowships of 12 to 24 months or short-term emergency stipends of three months. Please find more information here.

BRiDGE for Researchers in Danger Going to Europe

Bielefeld University coordinates the BRiDGE Project which focuses on early- and late-stage post-doc researchers and professors of all ages, especially those displaced in Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.

The European Commission has established the Portal Science4Refugees on the EURAXESS-Researchers in Motion website, providing information for researchers under threat seeking sanctuary in Europe.

In addition, the Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) has collated an overview of alternative funding sources for endangered researchers, grouped according to the selection criteria researchers have to fulfil.

"Philipp Schwartz-Initiative", Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung

The Philipp Schwartz Initiative enables universities and research institutions in Germany to host threatened researchers for a period of 24 months on a fully-funded research fellowship. For more information visit: www.philipp-schwartz-initiative.de

German Research Foundation (DFG)

Meeting the respective prerequisites, application for additionallly DFG funding for the integration of researchers under threat into ongoing projects is possible. For more information visit: https://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/proposal_review_decision/refugee_scientists/index.html

Einstein Foundation Berlin

The Einstein Foundation offers two temporary programmes (Einstein Guest Professorships and Einstein Junior Scholarships) in order to enable researchers who are experiencing constraints in their work to come to Berlin for up to two years to pursue their research without undue restrictions or threats. The following institutions are eligible to apply: Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, Universität der Künste Berlin and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. For more information visit: https://www.einsteinfoundation.de/en/programmes/academic-freedom/

Hamburg Programme for Scholars at Risk (HPSAR)

HPSAR is a joint initiative of the Federal State of Hamburg and the higher education institutions in Hamburg. It aims to help scholars at risk overcome periods of acute need while obtaining further qualifications and finding their bearings in the German research and higher education system. Scholarships of 1 - 12 months are being granted. More information can be obtained from the Ministry of Science, Research and Equalities (BWFG) of the Federal State of Hamburg and the higher education institutions in Hamburg. For more information on the programme of Universität Hamburg please visit https://www.uni-hamburg.de/en/internationales/mitarbeitende/mitarbeitende-wissenschaft/gefaehrdete-forschende/funding/hpsar-ukraine.html

"Hessen-Fonds", Hessen State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts (HMWK)

HMWK grants scholarships to students, doctoral candidates and researchers with refugee status at state universities in Hessen. Applications are submitted to the respective university which nominates candidates to the Hessen State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts. For more information visit http://www.fluechtlinge-an-hochschulen.hessen.de/front_content.php?idart=791&changelang=19

Volkswagen Foundation

With special funding, the Volkswagen Foundation offers researchers who have fled Afghanistan the chance to continue their work in Germany. On the one hand, projects that have already received funding can apply for additional funds to integrate Afghan researchers into their project work. On the other hand, the "Academy in Exile" will use a further grant from the Volkswagen Foundation to offer ten fellowships with a term of two years. For more information visit: https://www.volkswagenstiftung.de/en/news/news/afghanistan-special-funding-refugee-researchers

In addition, the European Commission has issued a call for organisations and institutions which have been running their own funding programmes for refugee researchers for at least two years. The aim of the funding is to expand successful regional funding initiatives at European level.

Academics in Solidarity (AiS)

Academics in Solidarity is a peer-mentoring program that connects exiled researchers and established scholars in Germany, Lebanon and Jordan. It seeks to create a network of solidarity, strengthen the value of cross-cultural research cooperation and open up new perspectives within the academic environment of the host country. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). More information can be found here.

"Chance for Science", Leipzig University

This online platform helps to mediate contacts between researchers and students under threat, who are seeking sanctuary in Germany, and specialist colleagues and scientific institutions here. For more information visit: https://leipzig-chanceforscience.com/


Off-University aims to bring together people and institutions that share a commitment to global peace as a defining ideal and the vision of a less hierarchical, more democratic and free academia. Off-University is a registered non-profit association under German Law since May 2017. For more information visit: https://off-university.com/en-US

Universities and research institutions sponsored by the Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation can use the lump sum to organise an online class with the Off University. PSI fellows can thus invite another scholar at risk who is still based in his or her home country to give an online class together. For more information visit http://www.off-university.com/en-US/page/for-psi-fellows and refer to this document.


With its Research Buddies Initiative, the European Commission facilitates contacts and networking between endangered researchers and their European specialist colleagues. For this purpose, researchers at risk can post a profile on the site and publish their application package. For more information visit: https://euraxess.ec.europe.eu/research-buddies-initiative

The New University in Exile Consortium, USA

The consortium’s programmes try to create a sense of community and reduce feelings of isolation and dislocation among the displaced scholars by offering a series of seminars, workshops and other collaborative projects. The hope is that this will ease their transition into their new academic homes in the United States. For more information visit: https://newuniversityinexileconsortium.org/

Innovators Bridge North Rhine-Westphalia – Ukraine

The initiative of the NRW Ministry of Science "Innovators Bridge North Rhine-Westphalia - Ukraine" aims to enable Ukrainian researchers and scientists to continue their work in areas such as R&D, innovation and start-up projects or to open up new career prospects for them in North Rhine-Westphalia. The platform is open to Ukrainian experts, regardless of whether they are already in NRW or still in Ukraine. NRW higher education and research institutions can register on the website https://innovators-bridge-north-rhine-westphalia.b2match.io/ and publish suitable vacancies or projects for which expertise is sought. The scientists from Ukraine have a good chance of finding employment at the universities and research institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia. Initial get-to-know-you meetings can be arranged and conducted online via the platform.

Journal of Interrupted Studies

Based in Oxford, the Journal of Interrupted Studies is an interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the work of academics whose work has been interrupted by forced migration.

Scholars at Risk Network (SAR)

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of universities, colleges, research institutions and other science organisations which is dedicated to protecting threatened researchers and promoting the values of academic freedom. For more information visit: https://www.scholarsatrisk.org/

Council for At-Risk Academics (cara)

Cara is a non-profit organisation that provides support for researchers under threat with the aid of universities in the United Kingdom and around the world. Amongst other things, Cara mediates between researchers and potential host institutions. For more information visit: http://www.cara.ngo/

Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF)

The Scholar Rescue Fund was launched in 2002 by the Institute of International Education. Whilst IIE has been campaigning for researchers at risk since 1919, SFR has not only become an important funding provider for endangered researchers worldwide, it also helps researchers and research institutions with contacts and consultancy. For more information visit: http://www.scholarrescuefund.org/scholars

This overview does not claim to be complete, nor does the choice of the various initiatives imply a valuation of any kind. SAR Germany does not assume responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided. If you have any questions, please contact the organisations listed directly.