Press release

Humboldt Foundation launches package of measures in response to the war against Ukraine

Keep channels of communication open but end institutional cooperation and material support. Support for threatened researchers takes centre stage. Foundation promotes additional sponsorship options.

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The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is responding to Russia’s war against Ukraine with a package of measures. Institutional and material exchange with Russia has been suspended. Communication will however continue. Researchers who are at risk in the wake of the war or for political reasons will be offered unbureaucratic assistance and refuge. Eight individuals from Ukraine who are sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation and 31 from Russia are currently in Germany. Approximately 750 Humboldt alumni work in Russia, more than 100 work in Ukraine. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is implementing its package of measures in close cooperation with the German government and its partner organisations in the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany.

  • To help sponsorship recipients from Ukraine, the Humboldt Foundation is offering special arrangements for alumni stays and fellowship extensions. These instruments are also to be used to give sponsorship recipients from Russia who are at risk due to their critical stance on the war an opportunity for a stay in Germany.
  • As a rule, researchers who are at risk are offered a safe haven through the Philipp Schwartz Initiative. The application deadline for researchers from Ukraine who are at risk or who have fled the country has been extended to 18 March and the nominating process has been simplified. Further measures are being prepared.
  • Funding for institutional cooperation with Russia and for conferences in Russia has been suspended until further notice. Alumni from Russia currently cannot receive material support such as book donations or equipment subsidies.
  • Fellowships for German researchers who want to conduct research in Ukraine, Russia or Belarus have been suspended.
  • Fellowship applications from Russia can be submitted for the time being. They will however be rigorously assessed on the basis of proliferation criteria. This also applies to fellowships that have already begun.
  • Beyond the ongoing measures, the Humboldt Foundation has developed proposals for new instruments and forms of support such as short-term fellowships, additional bridge fellowships and a platform designed to bring researchers who have fled their countries together more quickly with academic hosts who offer a match for their academic disciplines.

The Foundation is expecting to have approximately EUR 23 million in additional financing needs over the next three years due to the increase in its funding requirements. Since these financing needs could be considerably higher than this, depending upon how the situation in Ukraine unfolds, the Humboldt Foundation is also seeking donations from the private sector or from business and industry within the framework of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative. The Humboldt Foundation has already received offers of assistance from a number of foundations. The first of its kind in Germany, the Philipp Schwartz Initiative was established together with the German Federal Foreign Office in 2015. International and German donors have already provided financial support for it in the past.

“Fast and flexible assistance for Ukrainian researchers is equally important right now, as is sending a signal to the Russian regime that we stand united with Ukraine and strongly condemn the Russian aggression”, stressed  Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. “At the same time, we are relying on science and science diplomacy as instruments of trust and dialogue. It would be disastrous if we were to destroy these bridges. In light of this, we fundamentally do not want to suspend the sponsorship of individual Russian researchers and, in the process, also punish persons who are courageously speaking out against the war and the actions of the Russian government. We offer refuge and support to those persons who are committed to promoting understanding and cooperation”, said Pape, adding: “We are placing our hope and our trust in the strength of scientific cooperation as a contribution to the long-term resolution of this existential crisis that has deeply shocked us all”.

(Press release 5/2022)

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time conducting research in Germany. The Foundation maintains an interdisciplinary network of well over 30,000 Humboldtians in more than 140 countries around the world – including 57 Nobel Prize winners.

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