EU Creates Opportunity for Refugee Scientists

EU_FlagThe European Commission has created a special initiative for asylum-seeking and refugee scientists and researchers. It enables a match-making process between refugees with scientific backgrounds and research institutions that have declared themselves as refugee-welcoming organizations.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 500,000 refugees fleeing civil war and unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere have sought safety in the European Union.

October 5, the European Union research commissioner Carlos Moedas announced that his group would help the scientists among them find research jobs, and that they were initiating a program called Science4Refugees. Through this program, refugees and asylum-seekers with a science background can upload their resumes onto a dedicated page on Euraxess—the EU research careers website.

Science News wrote that universities willing to help can get a badge from the commission as refugee-welcoming organizations and advertise jobs, internships, or training programs as refugee-friendly.

Science4Refugees aims to “help refugee scientists and researchers find suitable jobs that both improve their own situation and put their skills and experience to good use in Europe’s research system,” says the Euraxess website, which is inviting institutions to join.

Several universities have already said they will sign up, including the University of Strasbourg in France and the University of Leuven in Belgium, Kurt Deketelaere, secretary-general of the League of European Research Universities, told Science.

Other organizations have also begun efforts to support refugee scientists. Euroscientist, the website of the researchers’ organization Euroscience, wrote that the Fraunhofer and Max-Planck societies plan to introduce a pilot project to ease the integration of refugee scientists in Germany.

In the United Kingdom, the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), which in the 1930s helped scientists escape the Nazi threat and continue their career overseas, is helping persecuted scientists from Syria, in particular. Unlike Refugees4Science, CARA checks the applicants’ background and references, helps them find a host university, and can provide additional funding. Science wrote that 109 UK universities are members of the CARA network, which means they “actively … consider hosting a persecuted or at-risk academic, with a fee waiver and possibly other support,” according to the website.

Refugees4Science does not give preferential treatment during university recruitment or application procedures for visa or work permits, the EU commission says. “It is about making sure that people know about vacancies, can have more work experience, and be involved in the community. But they will have to compete with everyone else,” Deketelaere told Science.

A pan-European information campaign has been started to help researchers to find career advice and work. The tour will visit 34 European cities in 16 countries: www.facebook.com/EURAXESS.OnTour

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