Never before have so many scholars at risk asked for Dutch help. Most of them are from Turkey, where academic liberty has been suppressed since last year’s attempted coup d’état.

So far, UAF, a foundation that supports highly educated refugees, has received forty requests for help in 2017. “That is an unprecedented number for us,” said UAF spokesman Jasper Vink.


In association with Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences, the foundation seeks to ensure that the scholars can resume work in the short term. So far, 23 scholars have been hired on temporary contracts by universities, universities of applied sciences or research institutes.

It was not easy to get these contracts, and it was quite expensive into the bargain: each contract represents a value of twenty thousand euros. This money is used to give the scholars wages (a modest €350 per week) and reimburse them for certain expenses. Therefore, UAF embarked on a crowd-funding action this week.

Sounding the alarm

The trend observed by UAF is global. Last year, the Scholars at Risk international organisation, with which UAF collaborates, received requests for help from 756 scholars. The organisation was able to help 202 of them, half of whom were from Turkey.

Last year, Scholars at Risk sounded the alarm because scholars are increasingly being killed, tortured or jailed. According to the organisation, people working in higher education and research are subject to increasingly brutal attacks.

The trend is confirmed by figures. In 2010-2011, Scholars at Risk received a mere 25 requests for help. By 2013-2014, this number had risen to 295, which number more than doubled in the 2016 academic year.