Around the world, scholars have long suffered harassment, torture and persecution as a result of their work. In the worst cases, scholars pay with their lives for their dedication to scholarship and freedom of thought. The Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent nonprofit, has participated in the rescue of persecuted scholars since its founding in 1919. In 2002, IIE launched the Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) as a formalized response to this ongoing international dilemma.

The Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit professors, researchers and public intellectuals to find temporary refuge at colleges, universities 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. During the fellowship, conditions in a scholar's home country may improve, permitting safe return to help rebuild universities and societies ravaged by fear, conflict and repression. If safe return is not possible, the scholar may use the fellowship period to identify a longer-term opportunity.

In response to one of the greatest academic crises of our time, the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) launched the Iraq Scholar Rescue Project. This project assisted more than 275 of Iraq’s most senior and threatened academics in a wide range of academic disciplines—through temporary academic positions at universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning in the Middle East and North African regions.

Learn more about the Scholar Rescue Fund, including eligibility requirements, applications, becoming a host or donating to the fund

How the Scholar Rescue Fund Works

  • Established professors, researchers, and public intellectuals from any country and any discipline may apply for fellowships to support temporary visits to institutions in any safe country, in any part of the world. Candidates may apply directly or be nominated by a third-party.
  • The SRF Selection Committee reviews applications and awards fellowships annually to scholars whose lives or careers are threatened.
  • In most cases, fellowships are awarded to the host institution, which in turn issues the fellowship award for direct support of the fellow.

IIE-SRF selects outstanding professors, researchers, and public intellectuals for fellowship support and arranges visiting academic positions with partnering institutions of higher learning and research. Our fellowships enable scholars to pursue their academic work in safety and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues, and the community. If conditions in the scholars’ home countries improve, scholars may return after their fellowships to make meaningful contributions to their national academies and civil society. If safe return is not possible, scholars may use the fellowship period to identify longer-term opportunities.

Learn more about IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund


In 2002, IIE's trustees committed to making scholar rescue a permanent part of its the Institute’s work. This led Dr. Henry Jarecki, Dr. Henry Kaufman, Thomas Russo and George Soros, to found the Scholar Rescue Fund. By assuring that threatened scholars find safe haven and are able to continue productive academic work, SRF shines light on those who obstruct the pursuit of knowledge and preserves the intellectual capital of humanity, vital for societal progress.

The idea of rescuing threatened scholars has long been a part of IIE’s vision since its founding in 1919. From the Bolshevik Revolution to the Hungarian Uprising, IIE has demonstrated a commitment to protecting academic freedom. In the 1930's, IIE was instrumental in founding the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, which rescued more than 330 scholars fleeing persecution in Europe.

Learn more about the major activities undertaken throughout the Institute's history


To rescue scholars and, by protecting their lives and work, increase their countries' and the world's level of knowledge.

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