University scholars in Iran are seeking protection in greater numbers since that nation’s controversial 2009 presidential election, according to a report from the Scholar Rescue Fund.

Founded in 2002, the Scholar Rescue Fund has aided persecuted scholars around the globe. It arose from earlier, episodic efforts by the Institute for International Education to aid threatened scholars in times of conflict — from the Bolshevik Revolution through Nazi Germany. Today, much of the help is directed to contemporary political strife in Iraq and, more recently, Iran.

The fund has seen applications for help spike in Iran, from roughly five a year in the last decade to more than 20 in 2010. The group reviewed 27 cases worldwide in spring, half of them from Iran, and awarded new or renewed fellowships to 23 scholars, according to an Activities Report for Spring 2011. Institute President Allan Goodman discussed the effort recently for this publication’s On Leadership feature.

The rescue fund has helped 399 scholars since 2002.

The recent shift in focus to Iran reflects changing political currents. An analysis of scholar rescue from 2002 to 2007 found that the largest number of applications for aid came from Iraq, 111, followed by Congo (47), China (46), Zimbabwe (34), the West Bank and Gaza (30) and Nigeria (28).

This spring, 13 of 27 cases reviewed by the fund were from Iran, two each from Rwanda and Kyrgyzstan and one each from several other nations, including Cameroon, Mexico and Russia.

Rescued scholars are typically placed at host universities in safe nations, where they can continue their research and work toward returning home.