Around the world, scholars have long suffered harassment, torture and persecution as a result of their work. In the worst cases, scholars pay with their lives for their dedication to scholarship and freedom of thought. The Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent nonprofit, has participated in the rescue of persecuted scholars since its founding in 1919. In 2002, IIE launched the Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) as a formalized response to this ongoing international dilemma.

The Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit professors, researchers and public intellectuals to find temporary refuge at colleges, universities and research centers anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work in safety and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues, and the community. During the fellowship, conditions in a scholar’s home country may improve, permitting safe return to help rebuild universities and societies ravaged by fear, conflict and repression. If safe return is not possible, the scholar may use the fellowship period to identify a longer-term opportunity.

In response to one of the greatest academic crises of our time, the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) launched the Iraq Scholar Rescue Project. This new project aims to assist more than 250 of Iraq’s most senior and threatened academics in a wide range of academic disciplines—through temporary academic positions at universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning in the Middle East and North African regions. (Some exceptions may be considered for university positions in other world regions.) In doing so, the Scholar Rescue Fund hopes to contribute to the preservation of Iraq’s vital intellectual capital and ensure that, when conditions permit, these scholars will be able to return home to rebuild their once flourishing academic communities.

Learn more about the Scholar Rescue Fund, including eligibility requirements, applications, becoming a host or donating to the fund

How the Scholar Rescue Fund Works

  • Academics, scholars and intellectuals from any country and any discipline may apply for fellowships to support temporary visits to institutions in
    any safe country, in any part of the world.
  • The SRF Selection Committee reviews applications and awards 50-70 fellowships annually to scholars whose lives or careers are threatened.
  • Fellowships are awarded to host institutions for support of specific individuals to be matched by the host institution.
  • Grantee-scholars may continue their work in safety at the host institution—teaching, giving lectures, completing research, publishing their work—throughout the fellowship.
  • The Fund's hope is that during the fellowship period conditions in the scholars' home country might improve to allow their safe return; if safe return is not possible, the hope is that the scholars might use the period of the fellowship to identify a longer-term opportunity to continue their important work.

Learn more about IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund


In 2002, IIE's trustees committed to making scholar rescue a permanent part of its the Institute’s work. This led Dr. Henry Jarecki, Dr. Henry Kaufman, Thomas Russo and George Soros, to found the Scholar Rescue Fund. By assuring that threatened scholars find safe haven and are able to continue productive academic work, SRF shines light on those who obstruct the pursuit of knowledge and preserves the intellectual capital of humanity, vital for societal progress.

The idea of rescuing threatened scholars has long been a part of IIE’s vision since its founding in 1919. From the Bolshevik Revolution to the Hungarian Uprising, IIE has demonstrated a commitment to protecting academic freedom. In the 1930's, IIE was instrumental in founding the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, which rescued more than 330 scholars fleeing persecution in Europe.

Learn more about the major activities undertaken throughout the Institute's history


To rescue scholars and, by protecting their lives and work, increase their countries' and the world's level of knowledge.

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