Skip to main content

University of Gothenburg Welcomes Two Threatened Scholars


The University of Gothenburg is the first Swedish higher education institution to host scholars within the framework of the Scholars at Risk network. The scholars, one from Syria and one from Pakistan, arrived in September and will spend one year in Gothenburg.

Scholars at Risk, SAR, was founded 15 years ago and is an international network promoting and safeguarding academic freedom. The network aims to bring scholars facing for example persecution and censorship in their home region to academic institutions in a safe country. The report Free to Think, published by SAR last summer, lists 333 attacks on academic freedom in 65 countries from January 2011 to May 2015.

University of Gothenburg joined the network in 2013

‘The academic freedom is at risk in many places around the world. A large number of scholars and teachers are forced to flee their home countries as we speak. Giving these people a safe place to work is a concrete way for the University of Gothenburg to stand up for academic freedom on a global scale,’ says Helena Lindholm, pro-vice-chancellor at the University of Gothenburg.

Around 80 scholars find refuge through SAR each year, but the need is much greater than that. The number of scholars asking for help has increased with the escalating crisis in the Middle East. Last summer, the network received daily requests for support. At present, most applications are received from Iran, followed by Syria.

Two SAR scholars arrived in Gothenburg

The University of Gothenburg’s first SAR scholars arrived in September. They are from Syria and Pakistan and will spend a year in Gothenburg.

‘They will melt into the regular operations at the university, which means that they will conduct research and possibly also teach,’ says Lindholm.

The university accepted the scholars after reviewing their respective areas of research as well as the risks they face in their home countries.

The scholars are free to decide what to do after their year in Gothenburg. If they want to they can return home, or they can apply for a new SAR position in Sweden or elsewhere.

More information about Scholars at Risk

The SAR network consists of almost 380 higher education institutions in 38 countries. Sweden is represented by the University of Gothenburg, Dalarna University, University West, Karolinska institutet, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Lund University, Malmö University, Stockholm University and Uppsala University. The Swedish part of the network is coordinated by the University of Gothenburg.

Many Swedish communities are members of ICORN and offer refuge to cultural workers who are persecuted in their home countries. SAR shares many similarities with ICORN.