University of Helsinki to help scholars at risk

An international network offers the opportunity for the University to host researchers who hail from crisis areas or who face persecution because of their work.

The University of Helsinki has joined the Scholars at Risk network (SAR), which supports academic opportunities for persecuted researchers. The international network for institutions of higher education is dedicated to the protection of scholars at risk, the prevention of attacks on academic communities and the promotion of human rights and academic freedom on a global scale.

“Membership in this network is part of the University's goal of global responsibility and its social commitment to sustainable development,” explains Liisa Laakso, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Threats and restrictions

The scholars are criticised and targeted around the world due to the content of their work, their ideas or their position in society.

“An attack on a prominent scholar can serve to intimidate an entire academic community. In other cases, restrictions are placed on a scholar’s right to travel or their ability to cooperate with international colleagues,” explains Sinead O’Gorman, European Director of the SAR Network.

SAR arranges visiting speakers

The Scholars at Risk network supports persecuted scholars, for example, by arranging invitations for them to speak at conferences, seminars and other events. SAR can also arrange fixed-term academic visits of 6 to 24 months.

SAR supports researchers from many different fields of science and art. Their countries of origin are mainly in crisis areas such as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan.

The other Finnish member of the SAR network is the University of Arts Helsinki.

The Scholars at Risk network

SAR network members