Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of higher education institutions established in 1999, whose aim is to foster the promotion of academic freedom and to protect scholars who are threatened or whose work is severely compromised. SAR is part of the Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR) and of Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF)-Institute of International Education (IIE).  
In 2019, the Scholars at Risk Italy section was launched. Scholars at Risk - Italy currently counts 40 members, which include Italian higher education institutions, research centres and scientific associations.
The University of Trento joined Scholars at Risk in November 2017. The SAR delegate for the University is Prof. Ester Gallo, Delegate for Academic and International Solidarity; Scholars at Risk – Italy Co-coordinator (2019-2023) and member of the SAR International Advisory Committee

SAR adopts three lines of action: protection, advocacy and learning and research.


One of the main activities of the SAR network is to support at-risk scholars who cannot develop their scientific research because of generalised attacks or targeted persecution. A concrete action able to address these situations is urged by the latest Report “Free to Think”, published on a yearly basis by Scholars at Risk: 409 attacks were recorded between September 2022 and September 2023, indicatively in 70 countries and territories, against the academic community. The support is offered thanks to temporary scholarships in Europe, US and Canada. These temporary scholarships last between 12 and 36 months, with various types of contracts.


The second pillar of SAR activity concerns advocacy actions for academic freedom. Advocacy can be defined as a process aimed at outreaching to academic communities, political institutions and civil society with regards to academic freedom violations that involve students, scholars or academic staff, individually or collectively.

Learning and research

Research and learning activities promoted by Scholars at Risk aim at favouring a broader awareness about academic freedom and the core higher education values. This addresses not only the academic community but also institutions and civil society.