Institutes for Advanced Study provide a sustainable model of international researcher mobility even during a pandemic

The Helsinki Collegium is among the 25 European Institutes for Advanced Study that have issued a public statement on the importance of the IAS model for advancement of science in times of crisis.

November 11, 2020
Public Statement by the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study


One  of  the  areas  most  tangibly  affected  by  the  current  Covid  pandemic  is  international mobility and the circulation of academics and researchers. With national  borders  temporarily  closed,  travel  warnings  changing  frequently,  international flights severely reduced, and consular/visa services taking longer than  normal,  European  and  international  fellowship  programmes  were  and  are  subject to hitherto unknown levels of pressure and restriction. This is highly problematic  since  international  mobility  and  scientific  exchange  define  a  central part of today’s research and scholarship, locally and globally. Institutes  for  Advanced  Study  (IAS)  in  Europe  invite  every  year  cohorts  of  outstanding international scholars for scientific residence and have been affected  by  recent  developments,  in  some  ways  different  to  other  academic  institutions. Notwithstanding the fact that some IAS had to reduce fellowship programmes or in exceptional cases even temporarily close their doors, almost all institutes have continued to provide space, time and collegiality that is crucial for  scholarship  at  all  stages  of  academic  careers.  In  short,  IAS  provide  a  sustainable mode of international research mobility that is viable even during a pandemic. As the typical IAS fellowships last several months or even years, the possible periods of self-­isolation after the researchers' relocation do not create an unreasonable obstacle for mobility, in comparison to short term international research visits that have become impossible for the time being.

Three powerful lessons can be learned from recent IAS experience.

First, IAS have registered very few cancellations for the current academic year, and  have  received  a  significant  increase  in  the  number  of  applications  for  the  forthcoming academic year. The pandemic crisis has once more highlighted the internationally recognised roles of IAS as a model for scholarly safe havens and for  stimulating  scientific  exchange,  adopting  workable  alternatives  for  in‐person meetings in variant formats. Institutes for Advanced Study offer today the  ever  more  needed  conditions  to  concentrate  fully  on  scientific  work,  to  engage in discussions formally and informally with peers from various disciplines and  intellectual  traditions.  The  impact  that  IAS  fellowships  have  on  scientific  advance and output is likely to increase in these difficult times.

Second, IAS have proved themselves to be resilient, thanks to new ways of fostering scientific dialogue in times of pandemic. They innovate with hybrid forms  of  meetings,  mixing  deftly  online  seminars  with  in-­presence discussions. They have invented new schemes offering opportunities to involve former fellows and external associates and thus create a more integrative audience and achieve a greater outreach. Fellows have been keen to benefit from such an environment in this time of crisis.

Third,  IAS  have  a  long-­standing  in  providing  a  strong  academic  infrastructure beyond national borders. This role of the institutes in contributing to internationalization has long been recognized. In times as these, IAS play an ever more significant role in promoting an international academic community, integrity and freedom across national borders and cultural boundaries.

All indicated factors forcefully demonstrate the important scientific role of the Institutes for Advanced Study. Their significance for scientific exchange and development remains unabated in times of pandemic and is more important than ever. Therefore, the Network of European Institutes for Advanced Study, which gathers 25 institutes in 17 European countries, strongly encourages local and national governments, as well as international donors, to help the institutes pursue their scientific tasks. Now more than ever, they are committed to  providing  much  needed  opportunities  for  innovative  research  and  for  intra-­ and interdisciplinary scientific exchange.

Nadia Al-­Bagdadi                               Olivier Bouin
President, Netias                                 Secretary, Netias
Director, IAS CEU                                Director, RFIEA Foundation


Read the statement in PDF format:


More information:

HCAS Research Coordinator Kaisa Kaakinen,