One year after Russia launched its war of aggression against Ukraine on 24 February 2022, researchers from the embattled region continue to need assistance. The Philipp Schwartz Initiative for threatened scientists and scholars arranges a safe haven for these individuals and for researchers from other countries so they can keep themselves from harm and continue their work. With the conclusion of the current 12th selection round, 49 scientists and scholars will now be able to continue their research work in Germany. All 49 are threatened by war or persecution in their native country. Most of them come from Ukraine (35). Thirty-seven host institutions are taking in fellows. Since 2022, a total of 96 scientists and scholars from Ukraine have been supported in this way at 60 research institutes in Germany.
The Humboldt Foundation has years of experience in supporting and assisting researchers who are at risk. Working together with Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, it was the first research funding organisation in Germany to develop in 2015 a corresponding programme for offering such individuals refuge in Germany. This programme − the Philipp Schwartz Initiative − continues to receive generous financial support from foundations in Germany and other countries, such as the Mellon Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the Stiftung Mercator, as well to this day. The Philipp Schwartz Initiative helps German universities and research institutes take in for a period of two to three years foreign researchers who are threatened by war or persecution in their home countries.
In the case of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, the Humboldt Foundation works closely right from the start with international partner organisations such as the Scholars at Risk Network, the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund and the Council for At-Risk Academics. The annual Philipp Schwartz and Inspireurope Stakeholder Forum which will be held this year on 23 and 24 May in Berlin serves to network the actors in this area.
The Initiative responds to acute crises or escalations with the help of special measures such as the Philipp Schwartz Emergency Fund for Ukraine. During the first year of the war, the Ukraine Emergency Fund put universities and research institutes in Germany in a position to take in 28 displaced researchers from Ukraine for up to nine months so they could organise longer-term prospects for their careers. Contributions by the Carl Zeiss Foundation and the Springer Nature research publishing company enabled the establishment of the Philipp Schwartz Emergency Fund.
The German Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the European Union and private funders have provided the Humboldt Foundation approximately €20.7 million in additional funding in 2022 and 2023 to support Ukrainian scientists and scholars through a wide variety of measures. These measures include fellowships provided through the Philipp Schwartz Initiative and the EU-funded MSCA4Ukraine programme, as well as general financial support and assistance for alumni Humboldtians in the wake of the war in Ukraine such as special arrangements for alumni stays and the extension of individual fellowships. It has been possible to grant a special research award and special research fellowships as a result.
Besides the aim of protecting researchers, these measures also seek to create long-term career prospects for individuals. A sustained brain drain is to the avoided. For this reason, these individuals’ reintegration in Ukraine is to be fostered as soon as it is again possible and collaboration between the Ukrainian university sector with the international research community is to be strengthened. In the case of the alumni measures and the MSCA4Ukraine programme, digital cooperation fellowships, expanded fellowships for researchers returning to Ukraine, and material resources for the rebuilding of research structures are being planned. The current war situation is decisive for the implementation of these measures. One major obstacle to putting new fellowships into action continues to be the fact that most men who are fit for military service are not allowed to leave the country.
(Press release 5/2023)
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 61 Nobel Prize winners.