Refugee Researchers

Contribution to integration in academia and society / Universities and project leaders submit proposals for additional staff / Refugee researchers can apply for Walter Benjamin positions

The 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.

The following requirements must be met in principle:

  • The person has not been outside their home country for more than three years at the time of application and
  • they have residential status in connection with an asylum procedure within the EU and are recognised as being at risk, or
  • in lieu of proof of residency status, they are able to present credible third-party evidence of being at risk no more than 12 months prior to application.

This way, the DFG also underlines its solidarity with researchers from Ukraine and Russia who had to flee their home country due to the current war situation triggered by the Russian attack. By integrating them swiftly in the German research system, the aim is to enable them to maintain continuity in their academic work.

In acute crisis situations, proposals can be submitted without proof of the respective status after consultation with the DFG.

Individuals are only eligible for sponsorship if they have not previously been sponsored through the Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Federal Foreign Office or under any comparable programme for integration in the academic system or have been employed in the German academic system via a fellowship or a position for a total of two years or more. 

Walter Benjamin posts

Refugee researchers can submit a proposal for their own project to be carried out in Germany under the Walter Benjamin Programme (Walter Benjamin post). The restriction of the target group to the early postdoc phase that otherwise exists under this programme does not apply to refugees. Funding for up to two years under this programme offers the opportunity to acquire qualifications for independent project supervision: this is a requirement for taking the next steps towards further establishment in the academic system. At the same time, applicants benefit from career support measures by the host institution, since these measures form part of the Walter Benjamin Programme funding concept.

Supplemental proposals/integration in current funding programmes

All project leaders and also higher education institutions can submit supplemental proposals to integrate qualified refugees – prospective or doctoral researchers – in DFG projects that already receive funding. These proposals can be justified based on the fact that individuals are now available for the further development of a project whose involvement can be expected to provide additional stimuli for the research programme in question.

A supplemental proposal can be geared towards any type of funding that enables refugees to be integrated in a project, in particular guest funds, staff positions and the Mercator module. Proposals may be submitted informally at any time and should not exceed five pages (not including CV and bibliography). However, applicants should take care to ensure that the proposal is sufficiently informative to ensure a swift review based on the DFG’s familiar quality criteria. In this connection, proposals must include information on the individuals to be incorporated in a project and justify the added value provided by their involvement.

Refugee researchers can also be funded directly in DFG-funded collaborative projects. The funds for this do not have to be applied for separately via supplemental proposals because this type of measure can be financed from funds that have already been approved. For example, refugees who hold a bachelor’s degree or comparable qualification can receive a qualification fellowship so as to pursue a doctorate as part of a Research Training Group at a later stage or else join the RTG directly. In the programs Collaborative Research Centres and Clusters of Excellence, supplemental proposals are usually not accepted, since funds that have already been approved should be used first.

The legal arrangements for the integration of refugee researchers are the responsibility of the 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 scholarship or employment contracts, for example.

Special programme for Ukraine

Under the existing DFG procedure “Cooperation with Developing Countries”, applicants in Germany can now apply for funds to cover the living expenses of Ukrainian project leaders in a maximum amount of €1,000 per month per project leader for project implementation in Ukraine.

Website relating to assistance for Ukraine

The DAAD uses its “National Academic Contact Point Ukraine” to collate extensive information and to present German academia’s numerous offers of assistance for Ukrainian students and researchers. In addition to these direct offers of assistance, it also encompasses German universities, the Alliance of German Scientific Organisations and other institutions and organisations involved in the science system.

GEPRIS – German Project Information System

The GEPRIS Information System provides an overview of DFG-funded scientific projects as well as the researchers involved and their institutions.

Further Information

Contact persons

For further information on funding opportunities and the submission of proposals, please contact the following:

For Research Training Groups and Career Development:

For Collaborative Research Centres and Clusters of Excellence:

For all other funding procedures: