Various German research funding organizations have responded to the current crises and the associated endangerment of scientists by expanding their programmes. The aim is to enable researchers at risk to continue their academic work by integrating them into the German academic system in the short and medium term. Regular funding opportunities for early career researchers also offer an opportunity to continue their research in Germany. Some of these funding opportunities are presented below:
Refugee researchers can submit a proposal for their own project to be carried out in Germany under the Walter Benjamin Programme (Walter Benjamin post). The restriction of the target group to the early postdoc phase that otherwise exists under this programme does not apply to refugees. Funding for up to two years under this programme offers the opportunity to acquire qualifications for independent project supervision: this is a requirement for taking the next steps towards further establishment in the academic system. At the same time, applicants benefit from career support measures by the host institution, since these measures form part of the Walter Benjamin Programme funding concept.
It is a requirement of the programme that you reach an individual agreement in advance with a research personality at the host institution where the project is to be conducted as to how you can be supported in this project and in your further career.
Further information on the program can be found here: DFG Walter-Benjamin Program Information on other DFG programmes for refugees can be found on the DFG Info page for Refugee Scientists. Quelle: DFG Webseite, 28.11.2023
The Philipp Schwartz Initiative enables universities and research institutions in Germany to host researchers at risk on the basis of a full fellowship. Accordingly, host institutions receive funding which is composed of two components:
Fellowship amount: Sponsorship covers a fixed-amount fellowship or contractual employment. It is earmarked for a period of up to 24 months; application may be made during the initial fellowship period for an extension of up to 12 months in the framework of a co-financing model.
Allowance for host institution: The host institution receives a lump sum allowance of € 20,000 for each individual sponsored.
Who is eligible to make an application?
Applications may be submitted only by academic institutions in Germany
Who is eligible to receive a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship?
Researchers who are demonstrably at risk – irrespective of discipline and country of origin – are eligible for sponsorship under the Initiative. At-risk status can be verified either by
- a residence status in the context of an asylum-granting procedure within the EU that confirms a recognised threat
- or a credible threat assessment issued by a third party.
The programme documents and further information can be found at the Website der Philipp Schwartz-Initiative. Source: AvH Foundation Website, 28.11.2023
Sponsorship programmes for researchers at risk – application submitted by researchers
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.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) administers the scholarship programme "Hilde Domin Programme" with funds from the Federal Foreign Office (AA). The programme serves to support students and doctoral candidates from across the globe, who are at risk of being formally or de facto denied educational or other rights in their country of origin, and to provide these students and doctoral candidates with an opportunity to begin or complete a study or research degree at a higher education institution in Germany. Students and doctoral candidates nominated and accepted under the programme will receive a scholarship for a degree course of personal choice and according to individual qualifications. The scholarship is sufficient to cover the necessary costs incurred during their study or research stay.
Planned start of studies summer semester 2024
- Nominations: until 15th March, 2023
- Application period: 16th March until 29th April, 2023
Planned start of studies winter semester 2024/25
- Nominations: until 15th September, 2023
- Application period: 18th September until 16th October, 2023
Supplemental proposals/integration in current funding programmes
All project leaders and also higher education institutions can submit supplemental proposals to integrate qualified refugees – prospective or doctoral researchers – in DFG projects that already receive funding. These proposals can be justified based on the fact that individuals are now available for the further development of a project whose involvement can be expected to provide additional stimuli for the research programme in question.
A supplemental proposal can be geared towards any type of funding that enables refugees to be integrated in a project, in particular guest funds, staff positions and the Mercator module. Proposals may be submitted informally at any time and should not exceed five pages (not including CV and bibliography). However, applicants should take care to ensure that the proposal is sufficiently informative to ensure a swift review based on the DFG’s familiar quality criteria. In this connection, proposals must include information on the individuals to be incorporated in a project and justify the added value provided by their involvement.
Refugee researchers can also be funded directly as part of Research Training Groups, Collaborative Research Centres and other DFG-funded joint projects. The funds for this do not have to be applied for separately via supplemental proposals because this type of measure can be financed from funds that have already been approved. For example, refugees who hold a bachelor’s degree or comparable qualification can receive a qualification fellowship so as to pursue a doctorate as part of a Research Training Group at a later stage or else join the RTG directly.
The legal arrangements for the integration of refugee researchers are the responsibility of the project leaders and the HEIs or non-HEI research institutions. In particular, this includes determining the individual’s academic qualifications and checking the legal requirements relevant to the conclusion of scholarship or employment contracts, for example.
GEPRIS – German Project Information System
The GEPRIS Information System provides an overview of DFG-funded scientific projects as well as the researchers involved and their institutions.
Special programme for Ukraine
Under the existing DFG procedure "Cooperation with Developing Countries", applicants in Germany can now apply for funds to cover the living expenses of Ukrainian project leaders in a maximum amount of €1,000 per month per project leader for project implementation in Ukraine.
- Interner Link mit AnkerCooperation with Developing Countries
- Interner Link mit AnkerInformation for Researchers No. 65
Website relating to assistance for Ukraine
The DAAD uses its "National Academic Contact Point Ukraine" to collate extensive information and to present German academia’s numerous offers of assistance for Ukrainian students and researchers. In addition to these direct offers of assistance, it also encompasses German universities, the Alliance of German Scientific Organisations and other institutions and organisations involved in the science system.
Support for Researchers in View of the Terrorist Attacks on Israel and Their Consequences
It is now possible to submit supplemental proposals for DFG-funded projects in the affected region to continue research work / Approved funding can be reallocated
In view of the current situation, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is offering targeted support and relief measures to researchers involved in DFG-funded projects which are affected by the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel and the current situation in the region.
With immediate effect, researchers involved in DFG-funded projects that are being conducted in the affected region or whose work depends on cooperation with partners in the region can submit supplemental proposals to the DFG in order to be able to continue their research under different conditions with as little disruption as possible. Supplemental proposals of up to €20,000 can be submitted informally at short notice by the project leader with appropriate justification and are to be decided on promptly. The DFG Head Office is available for individual consultations in the case of more extensive project adjustments and additional funding requirements.
As a general principle, funding that has already been approved can also be used to ensure the continuation of research work without any further effort. For example, project funds can be used to cover travel expenses so as to be able to conduct research in Germany on a temporary basis. These relief options can be implemented immediately, especially in the larger-scale coordinated programmes such as Collaborative Research Centres, Research Training Groups and Clusters of Excellence, as well as in connection with the German-Israeli Project Cooperation (DIP), but they are generally open to all funded projects.
Further Information can be found at the DFG Website