Announcing IIE-SRF Europe!

The IIE Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) is delighted to announce the opening of IIE-SRF Europe! Scheduled to open in the autumn of 2021, the office will be located in Brussels, Belgium.

IIE-SRF Europe will enable IIE-SRF – the only global program that arranges and funds fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars at partnering higher education institutions worldwide – to establish physical roots on the continent that has played an essential role in its efforts to support threatened and displaced scholars, particularly in recent years. While IIE-SRF’s partnerships span six continents, its partners across Europe have been integral to the program’s work. Since 2002, IIE-SRF has partnered with 139 higher education institutions in 22 European countries to support 179 fellows from 30 countries. In 2020, nearly one-third of IIE-SRF’s placements were inside Europe.

Banner featuring photos of Scholar Rescue Fund participants and IIE logo treatment of IIE-SRF Europe
IIE-SRF partner universities and scholars in Europe. Clockwise from top-left: (1) Freie Universität Berlin in Germany, host to 6 IIE-SRF fellows (2) Dr. Fathiah Zakham of Yemen, IIE-SRF alumna who undertook fellowships at University of Helsinki in Finland (3) Dr. Laura Febres of Venezuela, IIE-SRF alumna who undertook fellowships at University of Alcalá in Spain (4) University of Oxford in the U.K., host to 5 IIE-SRF fellows, in partnership with Cara (image credit: Toby Ord) (5) Dr. Ahmad Sadiddin of Syria, IIE-SRF alumnus who undertook fellowships at the University of Florence in Italy

“We’re so excited to establish a home for IIE-SRF in Europe,” says IIE-SRF Assistant Director Emily Borzcik, who will lead the office. “We highly value our relationships with partners and institutions in Europe and look forward to working more closely to support scholars across the continent and to develop new, sustainable programming.

“Through the new office in Brussels, IIE-SRF will build and bolster its European partnerships and enhance its scholar support efforts at a time when the number of academics in need is growing rapidly. “Today, there is an unprecedented number of scholars seeking respite from targeting and violence, a somber reality demonstrated by both the rising number of displaced academics in Europe and the record amount of IIE-SRF applicants in each year since 2017,” says Dr. Mariët Westermann, Chair of the IIE-SRF Selection Committee. “The scaled-up response to this crisis from IIE-SRF’s partners in Europe – including universities, governments, national programs, and like-minded organizations – has been critical to our efforts to aid as many scholars as possible. IIE-SRF Europe will enable us to work more closely with our European partners to forge creative and fruitful pathways for the many threatened and displaced scholars in need of safe academic homes.”

IIE-SRF’s Strategic Partnerships in Europe

IIE-SRF is proud to collaborate on scholar rescue initiatives throughout Europe, partnering with existing organizations in the field and offering expertise to nascent national programs. IIE-SRF also plays an active role in helping European governments respond to the displacement crisis, collaborating, for example, with the Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI), which provides funding and coordination to universities throughout Finland to host threatened and displaced scholars in partnership with IIE-SRF. Since 2016, six IIE-SRF scholars from Syria and Yemen have been hosted at Aalto University, Tampere University, the University of Helsinki, and the University of Turku, with two additional scholars scheduled to arrive in the country later in 2021. Finland has hosted scholars in a diverse array of disciplines ranging from agricultural economics to molecular biology.

The new office will enable IIE-SRF to:

  • Build and nurture partnerships with universities, government agencies, organizations,
       professional associations, and other European partners
  • Provide increased hands-on support to IIE-SRF fellows and hosts across Europe
  • Expand programmatic opportunities for IIE-SRF fellows and alumni
  • Leverage a strategic location in Brussels to contribute to continent-wide conversations
       about best practices for assisting threatened and displaced scholars
  • Learn from European colleagues about how IIE-SRF can best work within the
       framework of European higher education

A New Initiative: IIE-SRF Vartan Gregorian Research Grants

IIE-SRF Europe will lead a new initiative that gives our host partners the opportunity to apply for research funding related to human rights, academic freedom, or other pressing issues that lead to the displacement of academics globally, whether in the context of targeted threats to protracted conflict and higher education emergencies. The initiative is inspired by the life and legacy of Dr. Vartan Gregorian, a renowned leader in global higher education and a champion of IIE-SRF’s work. More details will be provided about the initiative in autumn 2021.

IIE’s efforts to facilitate safe academic environments for threatened scholars and students in Europe began over 100 years ago. “IIE’s legacy of rescuing scholars is inextricably linked to Europe,” says IIE President & CEO Allan E. Goodman. “This history dates to 1920, when the newly founded organization partnered with European universities to assist hundreds of Russian university students and scholars caught in the crosshairs of the Bolshevik Revolution. More recently, European government agencies, organizations, and higher education institutions have offered safe haven and academic opportunities across the continent to dozens of IIE Scholar Rescue Fund fellows. We look forward to expanding our work with European partners in diverse sectors to save the lives and work of additional vulnerable scholars.”

IIE-SRF is thrilled to begin a new chapter in this long history with the opening of IIE-SRF Europe!

About IIE-SRF: The Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) is the only global program that arranges and funds fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars at partnering higher education institutions worldwide. Since its founding in 2002, IIE-SRF has supported over 900 scholars from 60 countries in partnership with more than 430 host institutions in 50 countries. European partners interested in learning more about IIE-SRF should contact Emily Borzcik at


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