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Ten refugee academics put their talent to work for Dutch research

14 July 2021

Ten academics, who fled threatening situations in their homeland, are set to continue their scientific careers in the Netherlands. Their appointments will be funded by the second round of a pilot programme launched in 2018 called ‘Hestia – Impulse for Refugees in Science’.

The research projects for which the nine academics have been appointed concern a wide range of studies, such as expectations, needs and values of refugee patients in relation to Dutch health care, the role of civilian agency of local elites in the return of the State of Syria, and the impact of reparative measures on victims in Turkey. Another topic is the conservation of Syrian music.

Connection to Dutch research

Researchers who had to flee their homeland due to war or another threatening situation often face obstacles such as a different working language and culture in the countries where they settle. This makes it more difficult for them to continue their academic careers. NWO introduced the ‘Hestia – Impulse for Refugees in Science’ pilot call to give these academics the chance to join ongoing Dutch research projects so they can expand their network and increase their knowledge and skills. Former laureate Safaa confirms this: “The Hestia grant gave me a great opportunity to learn from my supervisors and colleagues at Utrecht University. It was the stepping stone to my current PhD in Physical Geography which was a dream come true.” 

It is also an opportunity for them to actively share knowledge and expertise, to get to know the Dutch science system, with the ultimate aim of enabling them to continue their careers/lines of research in their homeland. These academics will also enrich Dutch science and society with their expertise. Safaa’s supervisor agrees: “It is great to have her on our team. She brings many new ideas, valuable experiences and is an enrichment for our team. Her work contributes to our UN Sustainability Development Goals research projects.”

About the programme

Project leaders and main applicants of a research project already funded by NWO or ZonMw can use this programme to apply for funding to enable a refugee to join their project. The refugees must have an academic background (a master or PhD degree) and be appointed for a maximum of 18 months on a full-time or no more than 24 months on a part-time basis. The pilot programme was developed in consultation with The Young Academy, the Royal Netherland Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF).

Facts and figures

The funding is available for an appointment of at least 18 months full-time and no more than 24 months part-time. The application enables the project leader or main applicant to secure additional funding for the appointment of a junior or senior researcher (at the master or PhD level) with refugee status. A total of 47 admissible research proposals ten submitted. Ten of these have now been awarded funding. Eight of the nine refugees appointed are men and two are women. Eight of the project leaders/main applicants are women and two men. A total budget of just over 1 million euros was available for this round.

New round 2021

Due to the popularity of this programme and the advancement of laureates, NWO has decided to open a new round of this programme in 2021. It is expected that the call opens in September.

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