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Academic Freedom - Funding for Persecuted and At-Risk Academics

Academics in a growing number of countries are currently suffering restrictions in their academic freedom or are subject to reprisals and persecution due to their scientific work. Along with the general population in their countries of origin, they are further exposed to events forcing them to seek refuge, such as civil war and political, ethnic, and religious repression as well as repression based upon their views and opinions. Funding organizations and third-party funding organizations have responded to this situation and have for some time now been offering special funding programs to support refugee and at-risk academics.

The Research Promotion Section has produced this website to provide members of TU Berlin with an overview of funding options allowing outstanding and highly qualified academics who are threatened with persecution and who have been, or are being forced to flee their countries of origin, to participate in research projects or to take up work at TU Berlin via other means of financing.

Einstein Foundation

“Einstein Guest Researchers” and “Einstein Junior Scholarships” programs for fostering academic freedom
The two temporary special programs  “Einstein Guest Researchers“ and “Einstein Junior Scholarships“ offer at-risk acadmics, and researchers the world over restricted in their academic freedom the chance to conduct research work in Berlin for a period of up to two years. The programs are intended primarily to fund outstanding academics from war zones as well as researchers from regions where subtle and direct restrictions in research apply and who are looking to return to, emigrate to, or participate in cooperative projects with countries where they are not exposed to restrictions of this kind. The programs also strengthen Berlin’s image as a tolerant, cosmopolitan city where researchers can freely pursue their scientific work. The programs are open to the Berlin universities and applications can be submitted at any time.
Applications at TU Berlin are to be submitted via the Research Promotion Section (VC 3).
Further information about the “Academic Freedom” program can be found at:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Supplemental proposals for refugees and at-risk researchers
The DFG seeks to enable scientists who have fled their countries of origin to participate in research projects. Heads of projects and the universities themselves can submit supplemental proposals to enable suitably qualified refugees to join projects which are already being financed by the DFG. This option applies to all general research funding procedures. These applications can be justified on the basis that the project can now draw upon the expertise of academics who will be able to bring fresh impetus to the scientific work being conducted. Supplemental proposals can be used to apply for any funding which enables refugees to be included in a project. This applies particularly to guest funding and staff posts, as well as the Mercator module, which can be applied to to fund research grants, Emmy Noether programs, research groups, priority programs, research training groups, and collaborative research centers. The Mercator module can be used to cover accommodation and travel costs as well as provide remuneration. Funding is available for individuals with a residence status in the context of an asylum-granting procedure that confirms a recognized threat. Proposals can be submitted informally at any time and should not exceed five pages (not including CV and bibliography). Applicants should however ensure that the proposal is clear and detailed enough to allow prompt review in accordance with the DFG's standard quality criteria. An explanation must be provided as to how the refugee’s contribution adds to the value of the project.

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Philipp Schwartz Initiative
The Philipp Schwartz Initiative provides universities and research institutions in Germany with the means to host at-risk foreign researchers for a period of 24 months on a fully funded research fellowship. An extension is possible under a co-financing model. The Initiative is funded by the Federal Foreign Office, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Klaus Tschira Foundation, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Stifterverband, and the Stiftung Mercator. Research institutes in Germany, including public universities, are eligible to apply. Institutes whose applications are successful will be able to award a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship to at-risk researchers. Please see the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation website for information concerning application dates.
To obtain information and submit an application, please contact Baris Ünal (Section I E, Tel. 25654), advisor on issues relating to refugees at TU Berlin.

Further information about the Philipp Schwartz Initiative can be found at:

Volkswagen Foundation

Funding program for refugee scholars and scientists
The Volkswagen Foundation wishes to contribute to the integration of refugee scholars and academics in research and society and help them to pursue their academic career in Germany.
  • Over the past 10 years, the Foundation’s scholarship programs have enabled a visiting scholar to be incorporated into a research project within their institute for a period of up to two years.
  • Institutes currently receiving funding from the Foundation have the alternative option - in addition to their research proposal grants - to apply for additional funding for a period of up to three years to integrate refugee scientists into an existing project.
Further information concerning the Volkswagen Foundation’s funding program can be found at:

Institute of International Education

Scholar Rescue Fund
The Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) run by the Institute of International Education (IIE), is one of the biggest international fellowship awarding programs. The IIE-SRF Fellowships are intended for professors, researchers and intellectuals with a public profile whose lives or careers are at-risk in their countries of origin. The one-year partial fellowships are awarded for stays at universities and research institutes providing a firm offer of work. Fellowships can be extended for one year. The SRF also helps researchers and research institutes establish contact with one another.
Further information concerning the IIE and the SRF can be found at:  

Further Funding Options

Further Funding Options

In addition to the programs offered by these funding organizations, other programs not specifically dedicated to this purpose, particularly those offered by the DAAD, could also be made available to fund refugee academics. Applications for funding are to be submitted under the standard conditions of the respective funding organizations and in competition with all other applicants, with or without refugee or at-risk status. As for the dedicated programs for refugee scientists, funding is only awarded here to outstanding researchers.
Information concerning further funding options for refugees as well as DAAD programs for stays in Germany can be found at:

The Bigger Picture

Academy in Exile (Essen, Berlin)
The Academy in Exile was jointly established by the Institute of Tourism at the University of Duisburg-Essen, the KWI in Essen and the Forum Transregionale Studien Berlin. The initiative is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and has been initially established in Berlin and Essen. The initiative is intended to create the opportunity to establish an academic program of critical Turkish studies and a forum to reflect on academic freedom and science in exile. In addition, 10 fellowships are awarded annually to at-risk researchers and researchers living in exile.

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

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