The Institute has assisted displaced and persecuted scholars since its founding in 1919. Perhaps IIE's most famous episode of such work was in the 1930s, when the Emergency Committee to Aid Displaced Foreign Scholars was established. The Committee eventually aided distinguished individuals such as Martin Buber, Paul Tillich and Jacques Maritain. During this time, as IIE's Assistant Director, Edward R. Murrow worked to rescue more than 300 European scholars threatened under Nazism, as well as those fleeing from Spanish and Italian fascism.
In 2002, IIE and its Trustees launched the Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) to serve as a permanent, formalized response to this critical international problem. The Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships and safe haven for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships provide professors, researchers and other senior academics with temporary refuge at universities and colleges around the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues, and the community at large. 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, scholars can use the fellowship period to extend their term, in which they can continue their academic work and help their countries from afar.
In response to a severe academic crisis, the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) launched the Iraq Scholar Rescue Project in 2007. This project is assisting hundreds of Iraq’s most senior and most threatened academics through temporary academic positions at universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning primarily in the Middle East and North African regions. This effort is generously supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of State, the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, the Fry Foundation, and IIE Trustees, among others. The goal is to preserve Iraq’s vital intellectual capital so that, when conditions permit, these scholars will be able to return home to rebuild their once flourishing academic communities.
Learn more about the Scholar Rescue Fund
Throughout its history, IIE has helped international students fleeing conflict and oppression or facing emergency situations, such as natural disasters or serious illness. After the Hungarian Uprising in 1956, for example, IIE helped over 600 student refugees to learn English and complete their education safely in the United States.
In more recent years, and with the support of generous donors such as the Freeman Foundation, IIE has helped international students facing financial and personal losses following the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s, the Indian Ocean tsunami (2004), Hurricane Katrina (2005). Since 2010, IIE's Emergency Student Fund (ESF) has provided more than $1 million in emergency grants to support nearly 400 students in Haiti, Japan, Libya, Thailand, Syria and the Philippines whose home sources of financial support were impacted by crisis or natural disaster.
More help is urgently needed to assist students who might otherwise not be able to continue their education in the United States because of crises in their home countries that affect their means of support. The goal is to help them complete their education so that they may return home with skills to assist in rebuilding or developing capacity in their home countries.
To support IIE’s Emergency Student Fund, please make a donation now and designate your gift by entering “ESF” in the comments field.
Learn more about current and past Emergency Student Fund initiatives