As an increasing number of people are fleeing to Europe, the refugee issue has been high on the agenda and created commitment. This is also true in academia. The Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg has encouraged employees to donate money to help refugees, and has challenged other departments and universities to do the same as part of the “Generosity Challenge”.

Victor Galaz
Victor Galaz

One person who accepted the challenge was Victor Galaz, researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC). Victor, with the management’s support, issued an appeal to his colleagues at SRC to donate a part of their October salary to a refugee fundraising organisation of their choice. The result was just over SEK 80,000.
“Many people here also donate money to charities on a regular basis. There is a strong commitment to these issues at the University,” says Victor.

Peter Gillgren and Mårten Snickare, professors of art history at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics, have also organised a fundraiser. A call went out to the department’s employees, who raised money in October to organisations that help refugees. The result was just over SEK 33,000.

Gratifying strong commitment

Vice-Chancellor Astrid Söderbergh Widding is happy that employees are getting actively involved in the refugee situation.
“In all the misery, it is gratifying to see this strong humanitarian commitment. I hope and wish that we, both as a university and as individuals, will all contribute in our own way to find solutions to the largest refugee crisis in modern times.”
She highlights that Stockholm University is one of six higher education institutions that will be involved when the government shortly launches a fast-track for newly arrived teachers. Moreover, the Department of Mathematics has started planning for the online course “Introductory Course in Mathematics” to be offered to interested asylum seekers.
“It is of utmost importance that our departments get involved in this way wherever possible. As a university, we should contribute what is included in our mission. As private individuals, I trust that many of us are committed!”
Stockholm University is responsible for the national coordination of the “Professional Development for Foreign Teachers” programme. In addition, the labour market programme “Korta vägen” helps channel academics with a foreign background into the labour market.  Along with several other Swedish universities, Stockholm University is a member of Scholars at Risk, a network to support researchers who are persecuted in their home countries.