Researchers at risk

Leuphana University Lüneburg stands for the free and peaceful academic exchange and declares its solidarity with scholars who are subject to repression and persecution in their country of origin or who had to leave their home country.

The International Center provides support and advice to international scholars regarding fellowships, entry conditions, visa and residence permit, accommodation, language classes, family migration and social integration.

Fellowship programme of the Philipp-Schwartz-Initiative

In 2015, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Federal Foreign Office launched a fellowship programme for researchers at risk named after the Austrian pathologist Philipp Schwartz, who lost his professorship in Frankfurt in 1933, due to his Jewish faith, emigrated to Switzerland and founded the “Notgemeinschaft deutscher Wissenschaftler im Ausland” – Emergency Society of German Scholars Abroad.

The Philip Schwartz programme allows researchers who are subject to significant and continuous personal threat in their country of origin to continue their work at a German university or research institution on the basis of a full fellowship or contractual employment for a period of up to 24 months, with a possible extension for further 12 months.

Researchers who are demonstrably at risk – irrespective of discipline and country of origin – are eligible for sponsorship under the Initiative. At-risk status can be verified either by

  • 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.

Candidates must fulfil the following criteria:

  • have completed a doctorate or comparable academic degree (PhD, CSc or equivalent); in the case of legal or medical doctorates, provide evidence of equivalence to a research PhD
  • not be or have been resident outside their home country for more than five years at the time of application; researchers who hold German university entrance qualifications (“Bildungsinländer”) are not eligible
  • have the language skills required to successfully conduct their research projects
  • have academic qualifications (e.g. publications)
  • have the potential to be integrated in the (broader academic) employment market

Researchers who have already received sponsorship under the Philipp Schwartz Initiative or who have access to residence in safe countries due to dual nationality or other circumstances (e.g. marriage to an EU citizen) are not eligible for sponsorship.

Please note that researchers cannot apply for this programme directly. Researchers who are interested in working at Leuphana University should contact a Leuphana researcher working in the same research area or should ask for support in finding a potential host researcher.

Further information can be found on the websites of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative

Scholarships for doctoral students in the Hilde Domin-Programme

The Hilde Domin Programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), funded by the Federal Foreign Office, serves to support students and 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 students and doctoral candidates with an opportunity to begin or complete a study or doctorate at a higher education institution in Germany.

Students and doctoral candidates nominated and selected within the framework of the programme are enrolled in courses of study of their personal choice and individual qualifications and receive a scholarship that covers the necessary costs of the study or research stay.

The long-term goal is to enable the scholarship holders to study or conduct research in a safe environment so that they can make an important contribution to political, economic and social development in their country of origin (or in Germany or third countries) upon completion of their studies or research project. Through an accompanying interdisciplinary programme, all scholarship holders will receive further complementary training in order to strengthen the free development of their personality and to make a contribution to society.

Please note that you cannot apply directly for a scholarship. Should you wish to begin or continue your studies at Leuphana, please contact the International Office.

Further information on the Hilde Domin-Programme.

Other information and support

Scholars at Risk- a global network of higher education institutions and individuals working to protect scholars and promote academic freedom.

Scholars at Risk Network / Germany Section - The German Section of the global Scholars at Risk Network is composed of German universities, research institutions and science organisations that campaign to support and offer sanctuary to researchers under threat as well as to protect academic freedom.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) - supports researchers who have fled their home countries by making it easier for them to join research projects and apply for funding under the Walter Benjamin Programme.


Claudia Wölk
Contact person for refugees