Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Roma Education Fund Scholarships Programme (REF/SP)


Roma Education Fund Scholarships Programme (REF/SP) announces the fifth year of the Roma International Scholar Programme (RISP). The Programme is designed to provide partial support to Roma students who are citizens of one of the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey or Ukraine, for pursuing Bachelor, Master, PhD or Postdoctoral education outside of their home country or their country of residence.

The scholarship is merit-based and awarded for one academic year with possibility for renewal if the scholar continues to fulfil the Programme requirements. The aim of the scholarship is to promote academic mobility of Roma students and support their academic integration internationally.

REF supports diversity and does not discriminate on the basis of religion, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation.

1. Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility criteria of the REF/Scholarships Programme set standards, according to which applicants’ qualifications are assessed. The Programme Applications are screened for appropriate academic standards, completeness of submitted documents and deadlines met. The applicants who do not meet the eligibility criteria of the Programme/s are not further considered in the academic competition of the Programmes.

Applicants should:

be openly Roma, willing to appear publicly as Roma
have been or will be accepted at a state accredited university in the country other than his/her home country as full-time students in the 2011-2012 academic year. Please note that the home country and country of residence has to be one of the Programme countries as follows: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey or Ukraine
apply by the set deadline
pursue their studies for obtaining a Bachelor, Master, or PhD degree
submit a completed Application Form
submit a Curriculum Vitae (CV) outlining applicant’s academic background, work history (if applicable), as well as extracurricular activities and personal interests
submit a Statement of Purpose that expresses their academic goals and/or accomplishments and shows their commitment and motivation to study
provide official grade transcripts and official English translations about all academic qualifications they have obtained so far, including high school, Bachelor, Master or PhD degrees up to the 2010-2011 academic year.
submit at least one detailed and informative recommendation letter, describing the academic performance and/or extra-curricular activities of the applicant
sign electronically the Contractual Obligations section of the online application form
study in one of the following fields: law, public administration, journalism, political science, sociology, psychology, pedagogy, philosophy, economics, finance and banking, business administration, history, international relations and European studies, communications and public relations, medicine, engineering, ecology or environmental studies, biology, mathematics, physics and arts
provide evidence of acceptance in full-time university studies within a recognized university in a country other than the country where they reside or have a citizenship of
present an original university enrolment certificate for the academic year for which s/he is applying for scholarship support

REF may provide support to the same applicant for one or all of the following academic programmes:

- one Bachelor degree, for maximum 3 years
- one Master degree, for maximum 2 years
- one PhD degree, for maximum 3 years
- one Postdoctoral degree, for maximum 1 year

! Please note that in order to be considered for the scholarship, applicants need to fulfil ALL eligibility criteria listed above!

Preference will be given to Applicants pursuing Master, PhD, or Postdoctoral education.

Employees of REF, the Open Society Institute or national foundations of the Soros Foundations Network (SFN), as well as those people working on projects funded by the Roma Education Fund or who receive honoraria (consultants, fellowships) from REF or SFN are not eligible for REF Scholarships.

2. Selection Criteria

Selection criteria for REF Scholarship programmes take into account the quality of the documents submitted. The applicants must strive to comply with the selection criteria and present competitive application materials. The selection criteria for all Programme countries and programmes are as follows:

the Programme has established Grade Point Average (GPA) as one of the criteria for selection. The minimum GPA that applicants should have to be selected for the scholarship depends on the pool of applicants and severity of competition of each year
competitive GPA. In case of higher-than-anticipated demand for scholarship support in Programme countries, the GPA criterion may be made more demanding
Statement of Purpose that expresses the academic goals and/or accomplishments clearly and shows the commitment and motivation to study
participation in academic seminars, conferences, workshops, summer schools, and/or competitions will be an advantage

3. Decision Making Mechanisms

REF/SP Staff and the Programme Country Coordinators are not directly involved in the process of Scholars’ selection. The Programme staff has an observing role in the selection process. Please see the role of the Staff and Country Coordinators in theOperational Manual.

The International Selection and Advisory Board (ISB) of REF carries out selection for the Roma International Scholar Programme (RISP). The ISB also deliberates and takes decisions on the undecided cases provided by the NSBs and on certain cases of appeal (see below details on the latter).The ISB Members represent International NGOs, academic programs, experts with experience in managing Scholarship schemes, etc. The Board Members serve on ISB from 3 to 5 years.

4. Selection Process

The selection is merit-based and will be made in an open competition of eligible applicants who submitted full application packages on time.
The selection will be conducted by the International Selection and Advisory Board (ISB) at the end of September and mid-October 2011. The Board grants scholarships on the basis of an assessment of the quality of application materials and information from reference checks. The Board carefully selects the applicants who qualify best for the Programme. For the 2011-2012 academic year it is expected that 35 Scholarships will be awarded under this programme.

The selection process consists of several steps and levels, with slight variations according to the specific programme. Key steps are explained below.

Step One: Verifying whether the requirements of the Eligibility criteria of the Programme/s are met. The step consists of a technical verification of the application materials which is done by the Scholarships Programme administration staff.

Step Two: Evaluating the application content. The evaluation is carried out by the REF/SP International Selection and Advisory Board (ISB) members. The ISB members review the Application Materials and discuss each application in a Selection Board Meeting.

! Please note that REF/SP conducts several screenings throughout the application/selection cycle by contacting the universities and/or the reference persons.

5. Communication of Selection Decisions

The Programme communicates the outcomes of the selection process to the respective applicants after the final selection is completed via e-mail by sending either an official Rejection Letter (with specified reasons for rejection), or a Notification Letter (with the confirmation that the candidate was shortlisted for the scholarship), and a Grant Letter (with details on the stipend to be received).

The applicant may appeal against the Board decision within one month upon receiving the selection results. The appeals should be sent to REF/SP. The REF/SP team categorizes the appeals and sends them to the Scholarship Programme Ombudsman (contact of the Ombudsman is available on REF webpage), who analyzes individual appeal cases based on the materials provided by the applicants and the Programme. While analyzing the appeals, the Ombudsman may choose to turn to the professional advice of the International Selection Board Members.

6. Additional Benefits of the Scholarship Programme

REF is in the process of developing an additional set of support activities for Scholarship beneficiaries to enhance their chances of graduating on time with good grades and starting a successful career afterwards. It is anticipated that these activities will include but not be limited to: participation in programme conferences and workshops, various training opportunities and information to promote educational, professional and personal development, possibilities for internships and small-scale community project initiatives. Participation in all these activities will be voluntary.

It is expected that these activities will be provided through a Beneficiary Networking Programme (hereinafter: BNP) which will also be open to persons who have been beneficiaries of REF Scholarships in the past.

In addition, BNP will develop a process of exchange and communication by which current and former beneficiaries can support each other in the expansion of their social and professional networks within and beyond the Roma community on both national and international levels. BNP will strive to develop a mechanism for current and former beneficiaries to self-organize around issues and concerns of interest to them, including but not exclusively Roma education.

In the longer term, one of the anticipated outcomes of the BNP will be a mutually supportive community of current and former beneficiaries that is committed to actively supporting the fulfilment of the REF mission and the broader promotion of Roma inclusion.

As a first step REF/SP Programme is launching a Beneficiary Pilot or Reference Group with a purpose to ensure beneficiary participation in the Programme planning and strategy elaborations as well as lay out the foundation for starting the Beneficiary Networking Programme.

In order to be informed about the opportunities offered under the BNP, scholars will need to clearly indicate in the section of the Contractual Obligation form (as a part of the Online Application Form) their consent to be contacted by the Programme for BNP purposes. Providing the consent for this part is on a voluntary base and does not influence the decision making of the scholarships selection process.

By providing their consent, scholars agree that the personal data they provide in the application form can be used for the following purposes:

  • Sending to scholars invitations to participate in activities under the Programme;
  • Creation of the database of those interested in BNP activities;
  • Sharing contact information among the members of the BNP;
  • REF Scholarships Programme outreach activities.

7. Deadlines and requirements

The DEADLINE for applying for the academic year 2011-2012 is 15 SEPTEMBER 2011.

In order to be considered for scholarship in the academic year 2011-2012 applicants will have to comply with the given deadline.

- Application Form must be filled in electronically and:

  • be completed thoroughly; applicants must provide all the requested information and answer each questions as contained by the Form,
  • contain full family and first name, mailing address, country of residence, city, e-mail and telephone number (please insert the country and local codes!); the address must be valid for summer months and academic year period,
  • contain full name of University/Institute, Faculty, Department and Specialization; year of study during academic year 2011-2012 (for example 1st year, BA or 2nd year MA) and anticipated year of graduation,
  • contain acknowledgement of being Roma and interest in Roma issues,
  • outline the budget requested for one academic year,
  • contain a description of applicant’s major academic challenges, achievements, and accomplishments in the last attended academic year, as well as a description of prospective academic and professional plans,
  • contain official letters of already approved financial support (if applicable) for academic year 2011-2012 (from the university or other sources); must be scanned and uploaded as an PDF attachment to the application form.

- Recommendation Letter/s must be scanned and uploaded as attachment/s within the application form and:

  • be written by an individual familiar with the applicant’s academic or/and Roma related activities; such person can be the applicant’s university professor, an NGO leader or work supervisor,
  • bear the original signature and stamp (if available) of the reference person,
  • NOT be written by a relative or a personal friend,
  • NOT be written by a person who has applied for scholarship for the academic year 2011-2012, or is currently receiving any REF/SP scholarships!

- Curriculum Vitae (CV) must be scanned and uploaded as attachment within the application form and:

  • outline applicant’s academic background, work history (if applicable), as well as extracurricular activities and personal interests.

- Grade transcripts must be scanned and uploaded as attachments within the application form and:

  • be official academic grade transcripts and official English translations about all academic qualifications students have obtained so far, including high school, Bachelor, Master or PhD degrees up to the 2010-2011 academic year,
  • bear the original stamp of the university and signature of the university representative.

- Bank account information must be filled in electronically into the application form and:

  • contain the following: applicant’s EURO account number, SWIFT, IBAN and the bank address; the bank account must be opened in the name of the applicant and valid for the 2011-2012 academic year period.

- ID/passport copy must be scanned and uploaded as an attachment within the application form and:

  • be legible and, if an ID, have copies of both sides.

- Contractual Obligations form is a part of the Application package that needs to be accepted by Applicants in order to be further considered for the academic competition:

  • the Contractual Obligations, a legally binding article serving as an agreement by the applicant to follow the REF/SP requirements and conditions if the applicant is selected for the scholarship,
  • the Contractual Obligations in English language will be reviewed and signed electronically by each applicant.
  • please note that signing the Contractual Obligations does NOT entitle or guarantee the selection of the applicant for a scholarship!

- Acceptance letter and Enrolment certificate must be scanned and uploaded as an attachment to the application form and:

  • be an original acceptance letter and enrolment certificate from the applicants’ university showing that s/he is accepted/enrolled for the academic year 2011-2012,
  • contain the applicant’s full name, his/her year of study, name of university, faculty, department, specialization and type of study (i.e. full time, part time, distance etc.),
  • NOT bear corrections unless stamped and signed by the issuing person.

*The applicant should notify REF/SP in advance if one of the documents of his/her application is not available at the moment of applying for Roma International Scholar Programme. The applicant should state the reason, in the "Additional Information" box of the online application, why it is not included and date when it can be provided. If the applicant fails to do so, his/her application will be considered incomplete and he/she will be disqualified from further competition.

8. The scholarship grant

This scholarship grant is awarded annually and paid in one instalment. The actual amount given to an individual applicant will depend on the degree pursued, availability of other funds for this academic year, any tuition waivers, the quality of the applicant’s academic programme and university, the quality of the application, etc.

The scholarship grant may be used for one or more of the following purposes:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Living expenses - expenses other than tuition in case the latter is fully covered by the university:
  • Other - travel, books, materials, health insurance etc. in case the scholar is being provided funds for all other expenses

! It is not possible to apply for additional funds for the same academic year after the scholarship has been awarded!

9. Student Visa

! REF/SP will not assist scholars in obtaining student visas and will not cover any visa-related costs. However, if requested, the Programme can provide the scholar with a statement of financial support awarded by REF for student visa purposes.

10. Renewing the scholarship

The scholarship is not automatically renewed. REF may choose to offer the scholarship programme again to the public for the 2012-2013 academic year, with the same or different conditions, at its sole discretion. For information on the scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year, check the website or contact REF/SP for information in January 2012.

Please note that starting with 2011 the application process for all REF scholarship schemes is electronic and the online application forms, as well as all other relevant application materials, are accessible on the REF webpage.

If the applicants wish to contact the Programme with inquiries/questions, they will need to write

REF/Scholarships Programme

Teréz körút 46.

Mark Center IV. floor

H-1066 Budapest, Hungary

Please quote on your application when applying for this scholarship

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Scholarship Team: Ph.D Scholar Krisstofferson Joniel Scholarship Adviser, PhD Scholar Chea Vitom Scholarship Adviser and Senior Lecturer, PhD Scholar Rebecca T. Dalisay Scholarship Adviser, Ph.D Student Jiao Wang Scholarship Coordinator, MSc Student Dennise Maricel Scholarship Coordinator