News and Events

Beautiful Minds

By Anna Wallace-Thompson

A special auction by Christie’s is raising funds for artists and academics living in areas of conflict, including Syria and Iraq. Anna Wallace-Thompson speaks to one of the artists whose work is included in the sale, and who has benefited from the actions of The Scholar Rescue Fund. 

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Turkey's Fraying International Ties

By Elizabeth Redden

A crackdown on Turkey’s higher education sector after a failed coup has far-reaching effects for fraying academic collaboration and exchange.

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This Organization Is Rescuing Artists and Scholars from Syria and Iraq

By Anna Wallace-Thompson

“While ISIS is destroying Syria’s fabled and archaeological past,” says Dr. Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education (IIE), “the war is destroying the future of its arts. At the same time, we are hearing about artists and intellectuals who are continuing to generate new art in the context of the war.”

The [IIE Scholar] Rescue Fund aims to enable these artists and scholars to continue their work, seeing them as key assets to the future rebuilding of their respective homelands. The organization is also providing support for students and staff currently residing in the wider Middle East. This year, Christie’s annual online auction, UNTITLED: Insider Art Show, has partnered with IIE-SRF to raise funds to support these scholars in exile. Of the 60 works on offer, eight are by three artists who have benefited from the organization’s assistance—Syrian interior designer and artist Dr. Joumana Jaber, Iraqi painter Saddam al Jumaily, and one who wishes to remain anonymous due to fears for his safety.

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60 seconds with...

Last year Merton welcomed an IIE-SRF fellow from Aleppo. He talked with the local magazine about his experiences as a threatened scholar as part of the Merton@Home weekend's series of Global Issues Today on 25 June 2016. 

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Getting Syria's college students back into class

By Anna Patton

The world’s current refugee crisis is unprecedented not only in scale — with 65 million displaced, the highest number on record — but also in demographics: unlike in previous decades, many are from middle-class backgrounds. Fleeing one’s country vastly reduces chances of getting a degree: Globally, less than 1 percent of university-aged refugees of all nationalities are in tertiary education, according to the UNHCR, compared to 32 percent among the general population.

In February, the Syria donors conference directed attention toward resilience and rebuilding, including educating refugees as future engineers, doctors and other professionals. But this is no small task. Those fleeing war often leave behind the documents they need to apply.

“The problem is so multifaceted and tremendous that we need a multitude of different approaches,” said James King.

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Barred from the Classroom for Too Long: Why the U.S. Should Do More for Syrians Pursuing Higher Education

By Sarah Houston

Attending college is a rite of passage for young adults around the world, but also a daunting task and precious opportunity that many take for granted. The process requires research, support, and investment but in today’s globalized economy having an undergraduate degree has become an expectation, not a privilege. Since the Syrian crisis began almost six years ago, the international humanitarian community has focused on providing basic needs-food, shelter, and clothing- to displaced youth. But as the war drags on with no clear end in sight, it has become evident that many young Syrians will not return to their home country or university to complete their education. Why it is a moral imperative that the U.S. help.

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A Syrian family in New Jersey create art and music that they couldn't back home

By Jason Strother

Jumana Jaber has taught visual arts at Montclair State University in New Jersey since 2013. It’s been a little different from her job teaching art and theater design in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Jaber and her family of four are among the millions of Syrians who have fled their country since the start of the civil war in 2011. But they aren't living in the US as refugees. Instead, they arrived with the help of the New York-based Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund. Since 2002, the program has helped connect about 650 persecuted intellectuals (many from Iraq and Syria) with schools in the United States or in other safe countries. The fund splits the cost of settling academics and their families with a host institution for the first two years. It also arranges their J-1 exchange visitor and companion visas.  

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World Refugee Day: A Look at Four Syrian Scientists

By Florence Chaverneff

The Syrian crisis has forced more than half of the country’s population to be displaced. Four and a half million refugees have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, and over 350,000 to Europe. In total, over 160,000 Syrians refugees have been resettled globally since the start of the crisis and over 450,000 are still in need of resettlement. As the conflict is showing no signs of abatement, devising long-term solutions to integrate refugees into host countries is proving essential.

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Higher Education Under Assault: Spotlight on IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund

The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) engages regularly with many scientific and human rights organizations to exchange information, provide referrals, and advance our overlapping missions.  One such partner is the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF).

At the May 2016 meeting of the CHR, James King, IIE-SRF Assistant Director, spoke to CHR members about IIE-SRF’s work, including its vital support of Syrian scholars during the 21st century’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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The crisis of higher education for Syrian refugees

By Mohammad Al Ahmad (translated by Will Todman)

"I witnessed the collapse of higher education in Syria firsthand. I lived and worked in eastern Syria as vice dean of the College of Arts and Humanities in the Raqqa campus of Al-Furat University. After the Free Syrian Army took the city from the regime in March 2013, chaos subsumed Al-Furat University’s colleges and institutes. The Islamic State took over the city on January 12, 2014, and imposed specific conditions on us to be able to continue teaching. I was rendered useless, and so I decided to leave Syria after receiving a fellowship from the Scholar Rescue Fund in the Institute for International Education, in coordination with Georgetown University." Read an IIE-SRF fellow's experience in Syria's higher education sector during the conflict and his plan to educate the estimated 100,000 university-age Syrian student refugees.

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