Today, Cara helps academics and scientists fleeing from discrimination, persecution, suffering and violence in some of the world’s most dangerous places. Some were being attacked for defending academic freedom and human rights, for speaking out against government abuses, or opposing extremism. Others, caught up in conflict, saw their universities under fire and their colleagues kidnapped, tortured or assassinated. And others faced assaults or even murder threats because of their ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
What happens to them matters. Not just as individuals, important though that is; but because each and every one of them represents the future of higher education in their countries. Where people cannot speak, write, teach and meet, freely and without fear, education is compromised, truth is denied and lies become established. Where academics and scientists are killed or scattered to the four corners of the world, intellectual capital is lost and ruined societies cannot be re-built. Where higher education is destroyed, there will soon be no teachers, no doctors, no architects, no lawyers. Young people will learn no skills. With no futures, some may turn to extremism. That country will suffer for generations. And the whole world will suffer with it.
So academics, researchers and institutional leaders who are in grave danger must be helped, where necessary rescued, and their knowledge preserved. Those who want to go home should be helped to prepare to return when circumstances permit, to rebuild their countries’ infrastructure and higher education communities. But those who cannot return, because of the continuing dangers, must be helped to build new lives, bringing their new perspectives and international experiences to enrich the universities that will host them, in the UK or elsewhere.
Cara is a unique charitable organisation, with no counterpart in Europe. Its independence and neutrality are crucial to its ability to function in highly fluid and complex environments. Unencumbered by a mandate requiring it to work through governments, Cara is able to respond flexibly in rapidly changing situations. It is firmly embedded in the UK higher education and research community. Sixty-five percent of UK higher education institutions are actively engaged with Cara’s work. Cara has a growing number of international partners too, giving it a global reach.
“You must resist the powers which threaten to suppress intellectual and individual freedom, without such freedom there would have been no Shakespeare, no Goethe, no Newton, no Faraday, no Pasteur and no Lister.”
Albert Einstein at the Royal Albert Hall, 1933