IIE Scholar Rescue Fund Alliance Offers Practical Ways to Support Threatened Scholars Worldwide

New Partners Are Encouraged to Join as Higher Education Emergencies Increase

Crises in Sudan, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Gaza, and elsewhere have created devastating higher education emergencies and led to a record-breaking number of academics unable to live in safety or continue their teaching and research. Universities, research centers, and professional organizations around the world can provide a lifeline for these scholars by taking concrete action in partnership with the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund.

The IIE Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) is the only global program that arranges, funds, and supports fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars at partnering higher education institutions worldwide, including inside their home regions. Building upon IIE’s century-long legacy of assisting students and scholars under threat, IIE-SRF relies upon its dedicated network of global partners, the IIE-SRF Alliance, to offer practical support to these scholars. This includes temporary academic positions, professional development and career advancement opportunities, and other critical assistance. IIE-SRF alumni have reported positive outcomes due to this crucial support from IIE-SRF Alliance partners; they include empowering alumni to improve educational institutions in their home and current countries, expand academic freedom, promote social justice, and increase intercultural understanding.

Environmental scientist Dr. Eric Zama of Cameroon conducts field work during his IIE-SRF fellowship at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

As the number of higher education emergencies around the globe continues to rise, IIE-SRF is seeking new partners to join the IIE-SRF Alliance. Below, we highlight three IIE-SRF Alliance partners who exemplify the mutual benefits of being part of our network.

University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

The University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (UIUC) joined the IIE-SRF Alliance in 2022 as part of the Illinois Scholars at Risk (ISAR) initiative, a manifestation of the university’s commitment to supporting scholars who face threats to their lives, freedoms, and well-being. The first IIE-SRF fellow hosted at UIUC, a veterinary microbiology scholar from Afghanistan, arrived on campus in July 2023. In September and October of the same year, the university also welcomed two IIE-SRF fellows from Cameroon – a scholar of pharmacology and a scholar of environmental science. UIUC has recently committed to host a fourth IIE-SRF fellow from Gaza. IIE[JK1] -SRF’s fellowship support and rigorous selection process have allowed multiple departments at UIUC to host IIE-SRF fellows with confidence in the mutual benefits derived from the arrangement.

“Universities interested in supporting colleagues in need rarely have the network of information and connections required to identify and bring such colleagues to campus,” says Colleen Murphy, chair of the Illinois Scholars at Risk Committee. “The IIE-SRF program has built the network of scholars requiring support that the ISAR program’s success depends upon.”

Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia

The Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) is one of IIE-SRF’s most consistent host partners in Malaysia, providing opportunities for four IIE-SRF fellows to continue their work in safety, including one scholar from Iraq and three from Yemen. The university is currently hosting Dr. Muneer Alsayadi, a Yemeni food scientist, at UiTM’s Atta-ur-Rahman Institute for Natural Products Discovery (AuRIns). In his research, Alsayedi investigates the antimicrobial chemistry and biology of Yemeni herbs to identify and develop alternative medicines.

“I am very grateful to AuRIns and UiTM for their help and support,” said Alsayedi. “The administration and staff gave me a great welcome. They provided housing for me and my family and access to labs with modern equipment, enabling me to continue my research in comfort and safety.”

An IIE-SRF staff member recently visited UiTM and met with UiTM Vice Chancellor, Professor Datuk Dr. Shahrin bin Sahib, to fortify the partnership and discuss current and future collaboration. UiTM is confirmed to host a fifth IIE-SRF fellow in the coming months, an Ethiopian scholar of biotechnology and STEM education.

IIE-SRF fellow Dr. Sharif Hozoori of Afghanistan attends the 2023 MPSA conference.

At top: IIE-SRF program officer Ashnar Dholakia (center) meets with UiTM Vice Chancellor Professor Datuk Dr. Shahrin bin Sahib (left) and IIE-SRF fellow Dr. Muneer Alsayadi (right) during a campus visit.

Midwest Political Science Association

The Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) is a professional association dedicated to the advancement of scholarship in all areas of political science and communication between scholars engaged in such study. As an organizational partner with the IIE-SRF Alliance, the association provides complimentary registration to the annual MPSA conference for up to 10 IIE-SRF fellows per year, plus membership for interested fellows and alumni in relevant fields. MPSA has supported more than 30 IIE-SRF scholars since 2018.

“MPSA has benefitted from being part of the IIE-SRF partner network by allowing us to reach those scholars who might not normally have access to our conference or membership offerings,” says Stephanie Carter, MPSA membership director. “This partnership brings a heightened awareness of the political science discipline and the MPSA.”

In turn, participating IIE-SRF fellows benefit from the opportunity to present their work, gain feedback on their research, and build their professional networks.

If you or your institution would like to join the IIE-SRF Alliance and make a concrete impact on the lives and careers of threatened scholars, please visit the IIE-SRF website and complete an expression of interest form.