Programme to protect academics faces high levels of demand

Hilde Domin-Programme

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has expanded its protection programme for at-risk students and doctoral candidates over the past year. This made it possible to accept 72 new scholarship holders onto the Hilde Domin Programme. The programme now funds just under 160 early career academics to study or complete their PhDs in Germany.

DAAD-Scholars at an event in Berlin in October 2022

‘According to the latest Academic Freedom Index, the signs are clear: academic freedom is declining around the world. Yet Germany remains a safe haven for students and doctoral candidates from around the world who are prevented from freely continuing their studies in their home countries. At the Hilde Domin Programme, we continue to see high levels of demand that are well in excess of the funding which the DAAD can provide. Nevertheless, in the current world order, programmes such as the Hilde Domin Programme and the Philip Schwartz Initiative of the Humboldt Foundation are more important than ever. They are essential elements of German foreign academic policy,’ said DAAD President Prof Dr Joybrato Mukherjee. 

For the DAAD, 2022 was a positive year in terms of selections for the Hilde Domin Programme. In addition to the two standard rounds of selections in the summer and winter, extra funding provided by the Federal Foreign Office made it possible to run a special selection process for students and doctoral candidates from Afghanistan. Thanks to this, 72 new applicants gained places on the programme, 60 of which are from Afghanistan. Since the Programme started in 2021, a total of 157 students and doctoral candidates now receive funding. They are enrolled at over 60 German higher education institutions, most on master's degree or PhD programmes. 

Twenty nominations for each place

Demand continues to exceed the places available on the programme many times over. The DAAD received an average of 20 nominations from higher education and other institutions for each scholarship that was available. Although the Programme is open to people around the world, the majority of nominations come from the Middle East. The ongoing protests in Iran have led to increased demand there. 
Thanks to the additional funding, Afghanistan is now the leading country of origin for scholarship holders on the Programme. Belarus, Myanmar and Syria are also major countries of origin. Men make up 55% of the scholarship holders on the Hilde Domin Programme, while 43% are women and 2% identify as gender non-conforming. 

Accompanying professional development programme

The DAAD continues to develop the programme. This March, an interdisciplinary accompanying professional development programme for all scholarship holders will get underway. The programme will offer online and in-person events on topics such as professional and academic development. They will also be able to expand their networks through the programme thanks to the chance to meet other participants from different university locations across Germany.

Background to the Hilde Domin Programme

The DAAD has offered this programme since April 2021. It is named after the German poet Hilde Domin and funded by the Federal Foreign Office. Domin was a writer, poet, and essayist and member of the Jewish faith who fled Germany during the Nazi era and lived in the Dominican Republic for many years. The programme supports at-risk students and doctoral candidates who have been denied their right to education in their countries of origin by giving them the chance to start or continue a degree course or PhD in Germany. The students and doctoral candidates nominated and selected as part of the programme receive a scholarship for a study programme of their choice which is in line with their qualifications. The scholarship covers the costs relating to the entire duration of their degree or PhD.


DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service