Free legal advice for international PhDs/academics

International students and researchers often face a broad variety of legal issues during their stay in a host country. Professional legal advice can be rather costly and therefore not accessible to all scholars, particularly for early stage ones. Free legal advice offered to international scholars can help resolve and prevent difficult situations that could require more time and resources, compormise their security or cause reputational damage to the institution. 



Improved quality of service Improved access to information Enhanced safety and security

Basic information

Categories Administrative & Legal Support
Mobility stages Pre-arrival phase During mobility phase Upon arrival
Delivery schedule Continuous
Importance Nice to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Permanent employee
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience More than 15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 0-3 months 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months

Practice setup

Legal advice should encompass most common issues facing international scholars:

  • Renting and accommodation

  • Immigration matters and family law matters

  • Employment and work-related legal problems

  • Discrimination & harassment

  • Sexual assault & criminal charges

  • Traffic offences & accidents 

  • Fines & debts 

  • Frauds & consumer rights

  • Domestic violence matters

  • Financial issues

  • Company set-up

  • Etc.

Free or low-cost legal advice can be organised in collaboration with law faculties or local legal centers. It can be coupled with free/low cost translating and interpreting services. 



Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Legal department
Partners involved in practice setup
  • IOM migration information centre
  • Local NGOs or charities
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Local expat centre
  • Official sworn translators
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Procedures or bylaws are defined or updated
  • Process organization developed
Description of collaboration

Universities can set up collaborations with various organisations that offer legal support on different matters (e.g., immigration, employment, business development, translation). Such collaborations could help optimise the scope of expertise needed. 

Practice delivery

Typical legal advice can be offered through a dedicated webpage based on several common scenarios: "making a rental agreement", "rent being increased", "broken things where I live", "not being able to pay a fine", etc.

More personalised advice can be offered based on university's internal expertise held by in-house lawyers as well as law faculty members and students interested in gaining hands-on experience. 

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Legal department
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • Immigration office
  • IOM migration information centre
  • Local NGOs or charities
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Number of researchers assisted annually
  • Average satisfaction rate
Description of collaboration

Relevant information and legislation updates can be sourced from the partner organisations.  

Examples of practice

Campus Legal Aid Clinic

The Campus Legal Aid Clinic provides a wide range of free legal help to the students of the University of Pécs, thanks to the successful cooperation of law students and experienced lawyers.

Find out more