Information for Researchers, No. 17 | March 3, 2022

Refugee Researchers: DFG Expands Support

Contributing to academic and social integration

Contributing to academic and social integration

Since December 2015, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has provided support for academics who have fled their home country. It is now expanding its existing funding measures by opening up the Walter Benjamin Programme with the aim of enabling this target group to become integrated in the German research system at any stage of their career (after completing a doctorate).

In the current situation, this practical support measure for refugee researchers from all regions of the world is also an expression of solidarity with researchers from Ukraine as well as persecuted researchers from Russia. Their short-term integration into the German research system aims to enable them to maintain continuity in their academic work.

With the option of acquiring a Walter Benjamin position, refugee researchers who have been forced to leave their home country within the last three years are given the opportunity to embark on their own research project. Funding under this programme thereby offers the chance to gain experience through independent supervision of a research project at an academic institution in Germany, which is the necessary basis for taking the next steps towards becoming further established within the German research system. At the same time, applicants are to benefit from individual career support measures offered by the host institution, as is customary under the concept of the Walter Benjamin Programme. The focus of this programme is usually on applicants in the early postdoctoral phase, but in the case of this particular target group, such a limitation does not apply.

The DFG will continue to offer funding opportunities for refugee researchers in the future. Under many DFG funding programmes (research grant, Priority Programme, Research Unit, Clinical Research Unit, Centre for Advanced Studies, Research Training Group), it has been possible in the last three years to submit supplemental proposals for the purpose of integrating persons who have fled their home countries in ongoing DFG projects that already receive funding. Supplemental proposals can be directed towards any funding that enables involvement of the individuals concerned in the project, whether as research assistants, doctoral candidates, post-doctoral candidates or professors. In addition, the Mercator Module is particularly suitable for integrating academically proven individuals; here it is possible to apply for funding to cover the cost of travel and accommodation and also to cover remuneration based on academic qualifications.

Collaborative Research Centres are explicitly encouraged to use the approved lump-sum funds in particular for the incorporation of refugees, thereby enabling flexible, autonomous and direct action according to needs. This also applies to Clusters of Excellence.

The legal arrangements for the integration of refugee researchers are the responsibility of the applicant project leaders and the HEIs or non-HEI research institutions. In particular, this includes determining the individual’s academic qualifications and checking the legal requirements relevant to the conclusion of employment contracts, for example.

Further Information

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