Sponsorship opportunities for researchers at risk

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.

Sponsorship programmes for researchers at risk – application submitted by researchers

Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF)

One of the most high-profile, largest funding providers for researchers at risk is 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. 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://mwk.baden-wuerttemberg.de/de/forschung/internationales/baden-wuerttemberg-fonds-fuer-verfolgte-wissenschaftler/

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 (Essen, Berlin)

The Institute of Turkish Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, the Essen-based Institute for Advance Study in the Humanities, KWI, and the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin have jointly founded the “Academy in Exile”. The initiative is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and is initially being established in two places (Berlin, Essen). The aim is to create an opportunity to help shape a scientific programme of critical Turkish Studies and provide a forum for consideration of academic freedom and science in exile. Every year, moreover, up to ten fellowships will be granted to researchers at risk or in exile. Additional information here (only in German).

University of Göttingen, Faculty of Humanities

The Faculty of Humanities of the University of Göttingen has set up a fellowship fund of 45,000 Euros for threatened scholars and PhD students. The faculty is offering short-term scholarships for a period between four weeks and three months as well as fellowships for a period of twelve months as bridging grants. For more information visit: www.uni-goettingen.de/en/576543.html

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 Scholars Rescue Fund has collated a for endangered researchers, grouped according to the selection criteria researchers have to fulfil.

Sponsorship opportunities via universities and research institutions – applications submitted by institution

"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: http://www.dfg.de/en/service/press/press_releases/2015/press_release_no_59/


The Volkswagen Foundation supports researchers at risk with its programme “Funding for Refugee Scholars and Scientists” which comprises two funding lines: both under the “Fellowship Program for Guest Researchers” and the “Additional modules within the context of currently funded research projects”, applications may be submitted for additional funding for endangered researchers in the context of projects that have already received funding. For further information visit: https://www.volkswagenstiftung.de/en/funding/our-funding-portfolio-at-a-glance/funding-for-refugee-scholars-and-scientists.html

The Volkswagen Foundation is also involved in the initiatives "Science.Lower Saxony.Open to the World" and "Academy in Exile". Further information can be found on this website.

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/

"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


The Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony offers three year research fellowships to universities and research institutions in Lower Saxony to host threatened researchers. For more information visit: http://www.mwk.niedersachsen.de/startseite/forschung/forschungsfoerderung/ausschreibungen_programme_foerderungen/wissenschaftniedersachsenweltoffen-155318.html

The European University Association has published a collection of worldwide initiatives supporting refugee researchers and students offered by universities and research funding organisations.

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.

Networking activities

"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: www.chance-for-science.de

"Adopt an Academic", AGYA, FU Berlin

Peer mentoring programme whereby researchers act as mentors for researchers at risk. For more information visit: http://agya.info/adopt-an-academic/


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

Publishing and research

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.

International contact points

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

Alternate international resources


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.


SAR Germany Section – Secretariat
Dr. Barbara Sheldon
Head of
Strategic Planning Division
Phone: +49 (0)228 833 109

Frank Albrecht
Programme Director
Philipp Schwartz Initiative
Phone: +49 (0)228 833 122


Further information