Other international activities
The International Relations and Study Abroad service promotes and raises awareness within USI academic community on the issues of migration and integration by facilitating access to the academic path to talented threatened scholars and academics, and refugee students, recognizing that they are part of generally more vulnerable social groups.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) Network
Academic freedom and institutional autonomy are considered essential rights for higher education institutions to fulfil their mission. They are the pillars of quality education and fundamental attributes for conducting internationally relevant scientific research, thus contributing to the development of society by enabling knowledge transfer, innovation, entrepreneurship and cultural and scientific debate through researchers and scholars.
Academics must be allowed to convey their ideas and opinions, to contribute to open discussions and choose, according to the higher institutions' values, what to put forward in their teaching, research, or publications.
Nevertheless, academic freedom is not a granted right: in many countries, what scholars do, say or think may put them and their dear ones at serious risk, be it in terms of their liberty or well-being.
The mission of the SAR, an international network of institutions and individuals, is to protect threatened scholars and promote academic freedom by, for instance, arranging temporary academic positions at member universities and colleges. In this way, scholars can keep working on their ideas and research until conditions improve and are able to return to their home countries.
USI has been a member of the SAR Network since 2016 sharing those values and principles. The International Relations and Study Abroad service will provide administrative assistance and support to USI academics who may be interested in welcoming a SAR candidate within their areas of academic interest and competencies. SAR candidates may be eligible for the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) scholarships within the scope of its Scientific Exchanges funding scheme; they can also be supported by personal academic funds and work on research projects too.
Academics interested in learning more about USI’s SAR membership may contact the International Relations and Study Abroad service.
SAR Representative at USI: Maurizia Ruinelli
The SAR Swiss Section (SAR Switzerland) promotes the values, mission and activities of Scholars at Risk by hosting scholars at threat, lobbying, sharing information on good practice and initiating joint activities.
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) finances SAR’s activities within the scope of its Scientific Exchanges funding scheme.
The Research and Transfer Service supports researchers of the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI). Its main objective is to provide support to researchers with regard to the acquisition and management of research grants.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) Network: Afghanistan
Last update: 27.08.2021
Scholars at Risk has begun to receive a high volume of applications from scholars/practitioners in Afghanistan due to the rapidly deteriorating conditions in the country. Most are individuals who have publicly supported, through their teaching, research, publications or public activities, a pluralist, rights-respecting, democratic future for Afghanistan, and as a result, face a grave and immediate risk of retaliatory violence.
The International Relations and Study Abroad service will provide administrative assistance and support to USI academics who may be interested in welcoming a SAR candidate within their areas of academic interest and competencies. SAR candidates may be eligible for the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) scholarships within the scope of its Scientific Exchanges funding scheme; they can also/should also be supported by personal academic funds and work on research projects too.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) Network: Ukraine
Last update: 25.07.2022
Due to the great demand for funding for researchers from Ukraine, the 9,000,000 francs made available by the SNSF have already been exhausted. For the time being, the SNSF cannot accept any further applications for Scholars at Risk grants or supplementary grants for researchers from Ukraine.
Due to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Ukraine, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), in collaboration with the SAR Swiss Section, is providing 1 million francs to finance researchers from Ukraine who can be hosted at a Swiss university, as well as supporting Ukrainian researchers with a series of additional measures, by providing funding for researchers, institutes or laboratories to employ PhD candidates, Post Doc or other scientific collaborators from Ukraine in projects that it already funds.
All those measures are available here.
Once the placement is secured, institutions may apply for SNSF funding to
- employ a researcher (PhD candidate, Postdoc) in an SNSF-funded project or
- to pay the salary of a researcher (PhD candidate in an advanced stage, Postdoc) to continue his/her academic work.
SAR SNSF funding schemes
SAR candidates may be eligible for the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) scholarships within the scope of its Scientific Exchanges funding scheme, indicatively for one year. Therefore, it is recommended to match the SAR SNSF funds with personal or institutional academic funds, along with collaborations on research projects.
- Information for USI academics considering applications from Ukrainian scholars for placements in Switzerland and related Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funding
Candidates may be eligible for the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) scholarships scheme reserved solely for Ukraine, i.e. scholars who fled due to the war or were abroad for a short time (e.g. field trip, etc.) and cannot return home now. Scholars from Ukraine who live abroad and have, for example, permanent employment or a residence permit abroad will not be considered.
Scholars without a PhD are eligible if the completion of the doctorate is to be expected shortly after the start of the placement or if the scholar has been actively engaged in research for at least three years.
- Information for USI academics considering applications from scholars “at Risk” due to the situation in Ukraine for placements in Switzerland and related Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funding
Candidates from Russia, Belarus, or from other countries who consider themselves at-threat because of the situation in Ukraine may be eligible for the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) scholarships scheme within the scope of its Scientific Exchanges funding scheme for SAR scholars. The SAR headquarters in New York City assesses the applications, if the outcome of the assessment is positive it will enable the network to apply for financial support from the SNSF.
Information to be provided
- Details on the place (department, institute) and planned duration of the placement;
- Support that the host institution provides to the scholar;
- Invitation letter from the host institution;
- Any terms of the invitation that the host institution and the scholar have agreed upon;
- Documentation on the financial requirements for the placement;
- Details on the planned research or other scholarly activity during the placement.
- If it is not possible to allocate a candidate within the USI faculty/department/institute
Candidates seeking placement in Switzerland are advised to identify a Swiss researcher/institute/lab that matches the research profile and is willing to provide a host place. For this, please consult the websites of the higher education institutions in Switzerland, most of which are members of SAR Switzerland (www.scholarsatrisk.org/sections/sar-switzerland/#members).
At-risk candidates are invited to apply to the SAR Scholars at Risk network: https://www.scholarsatrisk.org/get-help/, the SAR Network works with a global network of higher education institutions around the world to arrange short-term, temporary research and teaching positions for threatened scholars. They also provide advisory, referral, and career support services for scholars.
Additional funding possibilities, resources, and open positions for Ukrainian researchers in Europe and beyond:
The International Relations and Study Abroad service will provide administrative assistance and support to USI academics who are interested in welcoming a candidate within this funding scheme.
Should you be interested in activating this initiative, or for any further information related to the call please contact Maurizia Ruinelli ([email protected]).
Access to USI and equal opportunities for refugee students
The project aims at promoting and raising awareness within USI academic community on the issues of migration and integration by facilitating access to the academic path to talented refugee students recognizing that they are part of generally more vulnerable social groups.
USI is operating in collaboration with Swiss higher education institutions, Swissuniversities and the federal and cantonal authorities.
Furthermore, by supporting the Swiss integration process into the labour market, USI facilitates access with auditing status to academic courses to job-seeking graduates.
USI collaborates with the SOS Ticino’s In-Lav service, the cantonal body in charge of implementing the cantonal integration measures and services for the Swiss Integration Agenda.
- Support and tutoring;
- Pre-enrollment access to Italian and/or English language courses;
- Auditing access to courses with reduced registration fee
- Support and tutoring;
- reduced registration fee
Lifelong learning and further education for job-seeking graduates
Auditing access to courses with reduced registration fee
In the frame of the project “adapted access to tertiary education for refugees”, swissuniversities and the Swiss universities are operating within the scope of their possibilities to address the difficulties and obstacles faced by refugee academics and researchers. This entails the dossier "adapted access to tertiary education for refugees", as well as membership of the network "Scholars at Risk".
The Swiss institutions of higher education are aware of their social responsibility and have reacted to this development, establishing various programmes to promote the professional and intellectual skills of refugees and enable them to continue their academic careers. At the same time, there remain obstacles to successful enrollment at a university, namely the recognition of documents, language level, cultural differences, economic restrictions and uncertainty of residence status for asylum seekers and temporarily admitted persons. swissuniversities plays an advisory and coordinating role in these issues and is committed to enabling closer exchange between institutions.
"Perspectives - Studies" is a project of the Swiss Student Union (VSS). The project provides refugees interested in studying with an overview of the Swiss higher education landscape, the various programmes and their requirements. It provides information for refugees, who wish to study and people who support them along their way.
SOS Ticino Servizio In-Lav
the service Servizio In-Lav del SOS Ticino is the cantonal body in charge of implementing the cantonal integration measures and services for the Swiss Integration Agenda. Contact: Rebecca Simona, [email protected].
Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships
Each year the Swiss Confederation awards Government Excellence Scholarships to promote international exchange and research cooperation between Switzerland and over 180 other countries. Recipients are selected by the awarding body, the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS).
For additional information:
State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation: https://www.sbfi.admin.ch/sbfi/en/home/education/scholarships-and-grants/swiss-government-excellence-scholarships.html
Research and Transfer Service: https://www.usi.ch/en/feeds/22881