Science in Asylum

„Science in Asylum“ aims to contribute to the integration of refugee scientists into the austrian scientific community and the labor market.

Problem statement

Highly skilled refugees are facing great difficulties finding a job in Austria and are often forced in to the low-wage sector. This de-skilling is not only a problem for the refuges but also for the country, in which the refuges seek asylum, due to increasing competition in the low-wage sector. Problems with the recognition of their educational and professional qualifications (nostrification), a lack of professional contacts, and the lack of local knowledge are major obstacles for the refugees.

The chances for highly educated refugees to find an adequate job in Austria are particularly low. Austria ranks very poorly among other OECD-countries concerning the reutilization of foreign qualification. The difficult domestic job situation in the academic and scientific sector worsens the opportunities for refugees even further. An increasing number of refugee jobseekers is expected, with a strong focus on Vienna. 18.968 refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection were reported  at the AMS (Austrian Employment Service) end of September 2015, 67,7% of them in Vienna.

The program is geared primarily towards refugee scientists who have a PhD or several years of scientific work experience. The selection of participants is based on the PhD and on publications. Persons entitled to asylum, as well as alylum seekers can participate in this program and thereby make use of the "lost time in the queue."


The project "Science in Asylum" aims to

  1. offer concrete information for highly skilled refugees on the local scientific sector (through a series of seminars)
  2. make the qualifications of the target group visible (through a joint publication),
  3. offer possibilities to form networks and foster mentoring relationships. (through peer review and mentorships).

Weekly lectures on topics such as
•  The Austrian / European research system
• Research funding in Austria
• Nostrification in Austria
• Culture specific „business attitudes“ and expectations concerning hihly skilled applicants.
• Scientific Entrepreneurship, preparation of business plans
• Offers of EURAXESS Researchers in Motion
• Science communication in Austria
• Etc.

offer assistance concerning the recognition and presentation of their education and  professional qualifications and provide a better orientation looking for job opportunities, internships, training and research projects. Also specific needs of the pariticipants will be discussed in the seminar (e.g.: focus on natural or, social sciences). This mainly concern information channels, scientific events, other programs for refugees (initiatives such as the European science4refugees, the EURAXESS team,..)

The main task of the participants at the seminar is to write a short scientific documentation of their previous work (10-15 pages) in English, illustrating their previous scientific activity. The participants will be supported by the project team. After a review by the project team the papers will be sent to well establish local scientists of the respective scientific field with the request for assessment and review on a voluntary basis. The local scientists may also advise the refugees concerning further relevant contacts, projects, job information, etc. If mutual interest exists a regular contact or a mentor/mentee relationship can be established.

After this review, the texts are published on the project website, as well as in an joint seminar volume (anthology). This publication is supposed to be of use when writing applications or at job interviews, as it illustrates their previous scientific activity and their educational activity in the period of the seminar.

The seminar is to be held every two weeks in a computer room. Participants will have the opportunity to use the computers after the seminar to work on their texts. It is planned to enable the participants to have permanent access to computers. Therefore a partnership with the University of Vienna is intended.

Audio-visual recordings of the lectures of the seminar (Webinar)

The lectures, which are held in the seminar will be recorded and made available as a video on the homepage of the project. This allows participants to view the contents again if there are difficulties in understanding. Also refuges, that do not participate in the course can benefit from the offered information. In the future this offer can be expanded to a complete online seminar. Such a format would be well suited for the target group, due to its flexibility, and greater range.

Lectures and discussion meetings

Additionally a series of lecture and discussion meetings are planned in which highly qualified refugees give lectures. This format offers refugees experienced in teaching the possibility to return to their familiar role as lecturer and contributes to a better integration into the local scientific community. The presentation and discussion of their work allows refugees to obtain valuable feedback from professional colleagues and students, and to enter into direct contact with people in their field. In order to address the widest possible, knowledgeable audience, the topics of the presentations are grouped by subject and publicly communicated and advertised in advance. Scientists who work in the fields are specifically contacted and invited to the event. To reach as many students, an announcement on mailing lists, social media and notices will be disseminated. If possible cooperation with the Student Union, Alumni and MORE can be sought. For now, it is planned to hold these lectures directly on ZSI, but depending on the public interest and subject area lectures can be moved to a different stage (larger auditorium, museum, technical university, ...).


Section: Institut

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Type: Education

Submission Date: 10/2015

Project Status: Finished

Start/End: 01/2016 - 12/2016

Project Duration: 12 months