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Programmes for At-Risk and Refugee Scientists

Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) is a young, dynamic and innovative university. It sees itself as an interculturally open university that is globally networked and ideologically neutral.

With our support for endangered scientists, we stand up for the freedom of science and the idea of cosmopolitanism and tolerance that our namesake Heinrich Heine stands for.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) administers the scholarship programme “Hilde Domin Programme” with funds from the Federal Foreign Office (AA). The programme serves to support doctoral candidates from across the globe, who are at risk of being formally or de facto denied educational or other rights in their country of origin, and to provide these doctoral candidates with an opportunity to begin or complete a study or research degree at a higher education institution in Germany. Funding is possible for a maximum of 48 months (1200€/month).

Potential candidates cannot themselves apply for participation in the Hilde Domin Programme, but need to be nominated by a German university/research institution.

Prerequisites for a nomination of doctoral candidates by HHU are:

  • acceptance by an HHU professor
  • doctoral students from all disciplines can be nominated, with the exception of human medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine
  • a proven or credible threat to personal well-being or safety (e.g. physical violence, arrest, denial of civil or educational rights, etc.)
  • the possession of educational certificates that enable access to a doctorate (Bachelor's/Master's degree) according to the database www.anabin.de.

The application process is carried out by the JUNO in close cooperation with the professors of the receiving institutes of the HHU. Please contact the as early as possible.

The final selection of candidates will be carried out by independent selection committees appointed by the DAAD. Both the status of risk and academic performance are assessed as part of the selection process.

Further information on the Hilde Domin Programme can be found on the DAAD website.

The Philipp Schwartz Initiative provides universities and research institutions in Germany with the means to host threatened foreign researchers for a period of 24 months on a fully funded research fellowship or an employment contract. An extension is possible under a co-financing model.

The initiative is funded by the Federal Foreign Office, with generous additional support from the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Klaus Tschira Foundation, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Stifterverband, and the Stiftung Mercator.

In 2019, the HHU successfully applied as a host institution with a support concept, allowing new applicants to build on an existing central support concept.

The call for applications in the 14th round is 16.02.24 with the earliest project start in July 2024.

Application requirements:

  • admission by a HHU professor
  • the researcher must hold a doctorate or a comparable academic degree and not reside or have not been resident outside their home country for more than five years; researchers who hold German university entrance qualifications (“Bildungsinländer”) or persons with dual citizenship are not eligible
  • a residence status in the context of an asylum-granting procedure within the EU that confirms a recognised threat
  • or a credible threat assessment issued by a third party, such as the Scholars at Risk Network (SAR) or the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), within the previous 12 months.

Applications will be submitted via JUNO in close cooperation with the professors of the HHU host institutes.  Please contact the as early as possible.

Further information can be found on the website of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

The German Research Foundation supports refugee researchers in applying for a position at a German research institution under the existing Walter Benjamin Programme. The aim of the funding is to integrate them into the academic system in Germany. Proposals may be submitted under this programme from all disciplines, and you are free to choose the subject of your research.

It is a requirement of the programme that you reach an individual agreement in advance with a research personality at the host institution where the project is to be conducted as to how you can be supported in this project and in your further career.

Further information about the programme can be found here.

The German National Academy of Sciences introduces a special fellowship for scientists from Ukraine who have their careers in science endangered or interrupted by the war to resume or continue their research activities, and remain in academia. The funding is person-related and designed for outstanding post-doctoral level scientists from Ukraine to work on an independent research project at a university or research institution in Germany for an initial period of one year, while maintaining their affiliation at a Ukrainian institution.

Further information can be found here.

Together with other member institutions of the Scholars at Risk Germany Section in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the HHU offers a joint support programme for researchers at risk. It is primarily aimed at the Philipp Schwartz fellows of the participating institutions, but other interested scholars may also apply to participate. By offering seminars and workshops on various research and career related issues, the programme intends to facilitate the start of a new professional life here in Germany.

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