Higher Education
supporting Refugees
in Europe

ZSI – Zentrum für Soziale Innovation / Centre for Social Innovation (CH)

Science in Asylum supports scientists who have fled from war and troubled areas and are seeking asylum in Europe. By participating in “Science in Asylum” refugees can make use of the “lost time in the waiting loop” in order to gain a foothold in the science community and the labour market.

A course of seminars offers information and support, which will help the participants to make use of their education and work experience in the Austrian scientific field. The seminar covers topics such as the Austrian / European research system, research funding in Austria, nostrification in Austria, culture specific “business attitudes“ and expectations concerning highly skilled applicants, scientific entrepreneurship, drawing up business plans, offers of “EURAXESS Researchers in Motion”, science communication in Austria.

ZSI - Zentrum für Soziale Innovation / Centre for Social Innovation (CH) Photo

Science in Asylum Certificate. © ZSI.
ZSI - Zentrum für Soziale Innovation / Centre for Social Innovation (CH) Photo

Excursion as part of the Science in Asylum Programme © ZSI

The participating scientists will be offered access to computers in order to write a short scientific paper showcasing their scientific work. A joint publication afterwards is supposed to illustrate the qualification of the participants. Furthermore, the project will offer mentoring and networking to counteract the “de-qualification” of refugees. Persons entitled to asylum, as well as asylum seekers, can participate in this programme.

Duration: January 2016 – March 2017
Refugee researchers: 25
Practice tested
The initiative “Science in Asylum” did not build on a former project/initiative. Following the breadth of the media coverage of the refugee situation in the summer of 2015, ZSI employees wished to contribute as an institute with our expertise to improve the living conditions of those concerned.

Within a few weeks the seminar concept was drawn up, volunteer trainers contacted, a crowdfunding campaign was organised and applications were assessed. The first seminar took place at the end of January 2016. Until beginning of June, the selected 25 participants met every 2-3 weeks. In addition to information events, excursions were organised and networking took place with the scientific community in Austria.
During the implementation of “Science in Asylum”, a number of new collaborations with NGOs, public agencies, individual experts and other initiatives supporting the target group were established. Most of these contacts were novel for ZSI as an organisation. We plan to collaborate with them whenever possible in other projects or proposals.
Sustainability & Funding
Due to the fact that to date no funding sources could be drawn upon, “Science in Asylum” was not able to be established as a continuous programme, despite interest from the target group.

“Science in Asylum” was funded by ZSI’s own funds combined with a crowdfunding campaign via Respekt.net.