International Higher Education Protection Organizations Condemn Attack on Syrian University

The crisis in Syria has created an academic emergency, with the break-down of higher education within the country and major obstacles facing Syrians who are studying or teaching outside of Syria. This week’s violent attacks on the University of Aleppo have underscored the need for urgent action to save the students and scholars who will be needed to rebuild their country. IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund has been helping scholars from Syria to enable them to continue their work at safe haven universities around the world. Today, we joined with the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) and the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR) to issue a joint statement condeming the attacks on the University of Aleppo.

Statement issued January 17, 2013

“The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA), the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR), and the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) jointly denounce—in the strongest terms—the attack on the University of Aleppo on 15 January. Early information indicates that the bombings have resulted in the civilian deaths of at least 80 persons and many more seriously injured. It is thought that many students and faculty of the university are among the casualties.

‘There can be no possible justification for such an attack on students in their examination rooms and dormitories. It is one more grim example of the way that educational institutions, and their innocent staff and students, are all too often caught up in violence around the world,’ Mr Stephen Wordsworth, Executive Director of CARA, said from London.

The bloodshed in Syria continues and all levels of education have paid a heavy price in the conflict. Reports are that in some parts of Syria education has come to a virtual standstill. All parties must immediately abstain from targeting educational facilities and educators and students must be protected.

The three organizations call upon the parties in Syria to take all necessary steps to protect schools and universities, and those who work and study in them, from any further attacks. ‘Syria’s academics and its young people are the country’s future,’ stated Mr Wordsworth on behalf of CARA, SAR, and IIE-SRF.”

About the Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF)

Founded by the Institute of International Education in 2002, IIE’s SRF provides academic fellowships and other support for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit professors, senior researchers and public intellectuals to find temporary refuge at universities, college 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 at large.

Syrian students and scholars needing assistance can go to: