Researchers at Risk Fellowships guidance notes

View the changes log to the scheme guidance.

Programme Aims

1. The UK has a long history of offering refuge to endangered scientists and intellectuals. In the 1930s leading members of the UK academic community came together to provide sanctuary to their German colleagues who were being forced out of their positions by the Nazi regime. The rescue mission they set up then is still working today, as the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara), to honour the mission defined by their founders as ‘the relief of suffering and the defence of learning and science’, saving individuals but also providing an opportunity for them further to develop their unique skills and to share them with others, for the wider good. Those who were rescued then made an enormous contribution to the development of the arts and sciences in this country, and to the intellectual rebuilding of Europe after the War.

2. In subsequent years UK institutions have continued their generous support for at-risk academics from around the world, working closely with Cara. Thousands of researchers and innovators have been helped to safety at UK institutions, where they too have been able to share their knowledge and skills with others, and to continue to learn. As the circumstances in their own countries have changed, some have been able to return, to help build better, safer societies. For others, this is still only a hope; but in the meantime, they continue to work, and to make their contribution here.

3. However, recent crises are forcing many more highly qualified people to seek safety, stretching the present arrangements beyond their limits. In response, the British Academy is now establishing this Researchers at Risk Fellowships Programme, with the support also of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society and Cara. The Fellowships will cover the physical and biological sciences, medical sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences, and the arts.

4. Applications can only be made by UK-based institutions. The first priority of the Programme will be in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has exposed Ukrainian-based researchers and their dependants to immediate threat. There is an immediate need to provide support for these researchers away from the war to enable them and their dependents to get to safety and have the space to continue their work. We hope to open the scheme more widely in the future. If this is possible, we will update these Scheme Notes.

5. At its outset the programme received £3 million of UK Government funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The Nuffield Foundation, an independent charitable trust, also contributed £0.5 million towards the scheme. The programme received further UK Government funding of £9.8 million from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. SAGE Publishing Ltd has contributed £50,000 also towards the scheme. The Academy is keen to work with other partners that may wish to support the Programme and can be contacted at [email protected]

6. The Programme aims to complement and be additional to the work already being done by UK institutions, including through their existing cooperation with Cara as members of Cara Universities Network, enabling them to provide additional fellowships of up to two years to researchers at risk with funding of circa £37,000 per annum. The awarded amount will be determined following a funding recommendation by the Selection Panel taking into account information provided about the accommodation being proposed, the visa route being followed, and the researcher’s dependants. Researchers and innovators supported through this programme will be able to take up these temporary fellowships at UK institutions to continue their research, enhance their skills and build long-lasting collaborative links with UK counterparts.

7. The call will remain open on a rolling basis with deadlines for applications until all funding has been utilised. The Academy will announce on its website when the funding has been fully utilised. The next deadline for applications will be 5:00pm BST on Wednesday 12 October 2022 followed by the same time on Wednesday 23 November 2022.

8. A summary of the requirements that will be needed to complete an application are as below. These will need to all be provided via the British Academy’s FlexiGrant system by the UK host institution. All elements must be submitted to be considered within the submission window. Any missing elements will result in the application remaining open for the following submission window.

  • There will need to be a named applicant who the Academy requires to be a member of staff at the UK host institution; a named academic mentor at the same institution; and a named researcher at risk.
  • Information to support an eligibility check on the researcher at risk including a CV, location of researcher, confirmation of language proficiency, and confirmation that the researcher has not yet been supported by an equivalent scheme.
  • A risk assessment letter provided by Cara.
  • A joint statement from the academic mentor and researcher at risk.
  • An institutional statement including information about the accommodation being offered.
  • A financial statement and justification.

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