Rescuing scholars facing danger or persecution in their home countries has been a critical part of the Institute’s work since its founding in 1919. Today, we continue this important work assisting international students and scholars facing hardship due to crises such as natural disasters, civil strife or serious illness through initiatives such as IIE's Scholar Rescue Fund® (SRF) and IIE's Emergency Student Fund (ESF).
In 2013, IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund saved its 500th scholar since the program began in 2002. In October 2013, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) conferred its 2013 Academic Freedom Award upon IIE SRF for the program's "efforts in support of Syrian higher education institutions and faculty in the context of the on-going civil war." To date, IIE-SRF has provided life-saving support to more than 40 Syrian professors.
The Iraq Scholar Rescue Project
Since 2007, IIE SRF's Iraq Scholar Rescue Project has provided support and safe haven to more than 275 of Iraq's most senior and threatened academics in a wide range of academic disciplines. Last year, IIE held two conferences in Iraq to re-connect Iraqi professors and help rebuild higher education.
Supporting Students in Times of Crisis
In response to natural disasters and international conflicts, IIE raises funds so that our Emergency Student Fund (ESF) can support international students studying in the U.S. who face difficulties due to crises in their home countries. This year, with the support of the Freeman Foundation, IIE awarded ESF grants totaling $90,000 to 22 Filipino students whose home-country financial support was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.
Carren Balgoma, a Filipino student at Eastern Michigan University, received support through one of the ESF grants distributed in 2013. She was a senior studying accounting when Typhoon Haiyan struck. “My mother owned a rice field in Romblon, Philippines, and worked as a rice farmer, but the typhoon destroyed the rice fields...I thought I wouldn’t be able to continue my studies this year, but now I hope to finish my degree in December 2014. This scholarship is a huge relief for my family and me, and when I finish my degree and start earning an income, I will definitely give back so others can also get help through this scholarship."
Leading Crisis Response
IIE's Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis coordinates scholarships for Syrian University Students unable to pursue their education because of the conflict. In 2013, the consortium helped 70 Syrian students accept admission to 13 US universities with scholarships worth over $2.3 million. The program will expand in 2014, with a goal tro help 100 Syrian students.