Applying for a fellowship:
Does it matter which country I am from?
There are no geographic limits on awards. Fellowships may support scholars from any country at institutions in any country.
Do I have to work in a specific discipline or academic field to qualify for a fellowship?
There are no limits on the disciplines or fields supported.
What is a qualifying threat?
Any threat of persecution or violence on account of your scholarship, identity or beliefs would qualify. This includes intimidation, harassment, repression, censorship, unjust punishment and violence arising out of your work, and/or exercise of your fundamental human rights.
Does the risk have to be related to your work?
Not always. In many cases, scholars and academics are targeted because of their work—the content of their teaching, research or writing triggers threats or violent reprisals. However, academics are also targeted because they are prominent members of their community. These “exemplar” attacks on scholars are an efficient means of chilling scholarly activity in the entire community.
What about general threats like war? Do the threats have to be targeted?
General insecurity, instability or civil conflict affecting the whole population of a country or region indiscriminately will not normally qualify as a threat, although SRF may elect to make a limited number of awards in such circumstances to highlight the impact of such insecurity, instability or other cause on scholarly communities and academic freedoms.
What type of academic training or experience is required?
Established professors, researchers, and public intellectuals may qualify. Preference is given to scholars with a Ph.D. or other highest degree in their field; who have been employed in scholarly activities at a university, college or other research center during the last 4 years (excluding any period of suspension, ban or prohibition); and whose selection is likely to benefit the scholarly community in the home and/or host country or region.
Do students qualify?
No. SRF does not award fellowships to students seeking financial support to continue their studies.
Does SRF support graduate or post-graduate study?
SRF generally does not award fellowships for degree-granting programs of study or to scholars whose primary purpose is to continue their graduate or post-graduate training. The primary purpose of SRF is to support established scholars. SRF may on occasion support a scholar in a graduate or post-graduate program of study if the program offers the most advantageous hosting arrangement for a candidate whose primary need is to escape some qualifying risk or threat.
Do I need to have publications?
Although not formally required, the quality and extent of your publications is ordinarily considered an indicator of academic merit to be weighed by the Selection Committee.
Do I have to speak English?
No. Preference is given to candidates with advanced ability in the language of the host country/institution. Limited awards for pre-fellowship English language training may also be available if needed to ensure the success of the campus-based assignment.
Does my legal or immigration status matter?
No, although candidates must secure legal status or work authorization sufficient to permit awarding of funds prior to the start of the fellowship. SRF staff will work with approved candidates and host partner institutions to arrange legal status, but under no circumstances will SRF staff provide legal advice to candidates or institutions.
Does my current location matter?
Candidates may apply from any location. Priority is given to candidates still in the area of threat or risk who face immediate, physical dangers.
If I am currently living in exile, will my case qualify?
Yes. Candidates in exile may be removed from immediate physical danger but frequently continue to suffer the effects of the conduct that forced their relocation. Such effects include legal barriers to residence, travel and work; isolation and separation from family and support-networks; related medical and trauma issues; language and cultural barriers; difficulty accessing new academic communities, etc. Because SRF seeks not only to save lives but to save scholars—that is to save scholarly voices and ideas—it may award fellowships to assist exiled scholars return to productive capacity.
Does it matter how long I have been in exile?
Given the limits on available resources for fellowships, priority is given to candidates who have been displaced or in exile for less than three years.
Finding a host institution:
What qualifies as a host partner?
Candidates may undertake their fellowships at host colleges, universities, research centers and other academic institutions in any safe country. The host institution is an essential partner, providing the scholar with professional and personal support during the visit, including matching financial support, workspace, and contacts with professional colleagues.
How are host partners identified?
Host partners may be identified by SRF staff, by the candidates before or after a fellowship is approved, or by institutions themselves when they nominate a candidate or communicate to SRF staff their interest in hosting a candidate. In seeking host partners, SRF staff employs a network of colleagues, including IIE university and college contacts.
What are the responsibilities of the host partner?
The responsibilities of host partners generally do not differ from those for hosting any visiting foreign scholar. Together with SRF and the scholar, the host agrees to the terms of the visiting appointment, including the scholar’s title, responsibilities, departmental host, contact persons/mentors, start and end dates of the visit, compensation and benefits, housing and transportation information, and other services or facilities to be provided. More specifically, SRF requires that the host partner provide matched funding for the fellowship.
What counts toward the matching support requirement?
The host partner plays an essential role and provides the following:
- Financial support equal to or greater than the SRF fellowship award. This support generally takes the form of a stipend or other direct funding for the visiting scholar such as housing, airfare and meal programs. In-kind contributions – office space, computers, language or other training fees, etc. – are encouraged for a complete scholar support package;
- University visa sponsorship (generally J-1, visiting scholar visa for scholars coming to the U.S.);
- Receipt of SRF Fellowship funds for support of the scholar and disbursal to him/her;
- Faculty mentoring and staff assistance in adjusting to the university;
- Assistance to find suitable housing when possible; and
- Access to university facilities and libraries.
How long is the fellowship term?
SRF fellowships may range from three months to one calendar year based on the scholar's need. Grantees are eligible to apply for one renewal of the fellowship for up to one additional year of financial support. Candidates and nominators (including prospective host partners) may request any fellowship term of up to one year. The length of the hosting arrangment is based on the availability of necessary resources at the host institution.
How are the fellowship awards distributed?
In most cases, SRF transfers the fellowship funds to institutions that have agreed in writing to invite, host and act as financial disbursing agents for a specific scholar. SRF generally does not provide award monies directly to individual grantees.
How much is each fellowship award?
Fellowships are awarded in the form of grants of up to US $25,000. Most awards require additional financial support from the host institutions or a third-party source. Support is generally equal or greater to the SRF award. The final amount of each award takes into consideration the funds available, needs of the scholar, costs of living, duration of the visit and the availability of matched support.
What is the purpose of the matching support requirement?
SRF seeks matching support from host partners as a means of ensuring host institution commitment to each visiting scholar and to extend SRF's resources to provide assistance to more scholars for longer visits.
Does SRF have any suggestions as to how to raise the necessary matched support?
Matching funds are often allocated by an academic department or a combination of departments that contribute to and benefit from the presence of the SRF scholar on campus. In SRF's experience, the Provost’s and/or President’s offices have sometimes agreed to match any departmental contributions. On occasion, outside and local community sources are also approached for additional support.
Does the location of the potential host partner matter?
The location of any potential host partner has impact on the likelihood of the scholar (i) making a significant academic contribution, (ii) returning to the home country or region, and (iii) continuing as a productive scholar post-fellowship, either by staying on at the institution or securing another academic position.
What are SRF fellows expected to do on campus?
The scholar’s duties on fellowship depend on the needs of the host partner and the scholar. Many SRF fellows teach courses, conduct independent research, participate in lecture series and conferences/seminars and otherwise contribute to the broader campus and nearby communities.
Who pays travel and airfare expenses to bring the scholar to campus?
Transportation to the host campus usually comes out of the scholar’s fellowship award or his/her personal funds. The scholar may purchase the airline tickets in his/her home country. SRF is also able to assist through IIE’s contracted travel agent to arrange the plane ticket. In this case, the price of the ticket will be deducted from the scholar’s fellowship award.
Who pays the $180 SEVIS fee that is a prerequisite for the J-1 visa application? (Applicable only to U.S. institutions, visa fees in other locations would be treated similarly)
It is up to the host partner how to work with the SEVIS fee. In most cases, the host absorbs the cost; in others, it is taken from the scholar’s SRF award.
Can scholars bring their family?
This decision is left entirely up to the scholar; however, SRF is not in a position to provide additional funding for support of dependents on fellowship. SRF will inform the host partner if a scholar plans to bring his/her spouse and/or children.
How much is expected for the scholar’s monthly stipend/salary?
SRF suggests that the host partner disburse the fellowship funds in a way that works best for the scholar and the institution (typically evenly disbursed over the course of the fellowship). However we do suggest providing a larger percentage in the first payment, if possible, in order to defray the initial set-up costs (which often include a deposit/advance rent for an apartment, purchasing furniture, and other relocation costs). SRF hopes to arrange fellowships where the SRF funds and matching support from the host will cover all living expenses for a modest, yet comfortable set-up.
Do scholars travel beyond the immediate vicinity of their host college or university?
Yes, many scholars seek opportunities to travel locally or within the host country for academic conferences or to visit friends and colleagues. Where possible, academic departments or on-campus groups have generously provided conference travel stipends as additional support for the scholar.