NEW YORK, October 3, 2018 – The country of Finland has played an outsized role in protecting the careers and lives of threatened academics amidst the ongoing displacement crisis. In January 2016, IIE and the Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) formalized a partnership to jointly support displaced scholars from Iraq, Syria, and later Yemen, at Finnish higher education institutions. During the ensuing two and a half years, four IIE-SRF fellows have been able to continue their academic work in Finland.
At a ceremony in Helsinki on September 18th, IIE and EDUFI celebrated these successes, renewing the partnership for another three years and expanding it to include artists and university students from conflict regions through the Artist Protection Fund (APF) and IIE Student Emergency Initiatives (IIE-SEI).
“This is a special partnership for IIE,” IIE Executive Vice President Maxmillian Angerholzer III said. “Not only has it provided life- and career-saving support to academics from Syria and Yemen, but it is also an exemplary model of how governments can collaborate with the Scholar Rescue Fund to assist displaced and threatened scholars. We are extremely grateful to EDUFI and Finland for their innovation and leadership.”
EDUFI Director Samu Seitsalo and IIE Executive Vice President Maxmillian Angerholzer III sign an agreement to extend the organizations’ ongoing partnership in Finland to help displaced students, scholars, and artists.
At the event, Dr. Sakhr Al-Kubati, a Yemeni professor who began his IIE-SRF fellowship at the University of Helsinki in May 2017, shared his experience of leaving Yemen and integrating into the Finnish academic community. In addition, IIE-SRF Assistant Director James R. King delivered a presentation on IIE-SRF’s efforts to reach Yemeni scholars entitled, “Yemen: The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis & A Higher Education Emergency.”
“We are proud to partner with IIE to host displaced and threatened scholars,” said EDUFI Director Samu Seitsalo, who signed the agreement with IIE. “Without the commitment and contribution of the Finnish academic community, these activities would not be possible. We are excited to extend the cooperation with IIE to also support schemes for students and artists from conflict regions.”
IIE-SRF is honored to have worked with EDUFI and three higher education institutions across Finland to host scholars from Syria and Yemen in the fields of agricultural economics, molecular biology, orthodontics and reconstruction science, and telecommunications engineering. The four IIE-SRF fellows are currently undertaking the fellowship at Aalto University, the University of Helsinki, and the University of Turku, and a fifth scholar will arrive later this year. Additionally, two Syrian students are enrolled in two Finnish universities through IIE-SEI.
IIE has been a world leader in international education since 1919. IIE works to build more peaceful and equitable societies by advancing scholarship, building economies and promoting access to opportunity. As a not-for-profit with 18 offices and affiliates worldwide, IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs.