RISP ~ APPLICATION GUIDELINES ~

Note: the REF Scholarship Program is addressed exclusively to persons of Roma ethnicity!

PROGRAM RATIONALE AND PHILOSOPHY

The main goal of Roma Education Fund’s Scholarship Program (REF SP) is to contribute to the emergence of a critical mass of Roma, higher education graduates, confident and proud of their Roma identity, academically and socially adept, equipped with skills and competences that enable them to become professionals in their fields, as well as remain solidly connected to the Roma community and support its further advancement and inclusion into the wider society.

The Roma Education Fund’s Scholarship Program (REF SP) announces the opening of its yearly scholarship cycle of Roma International Scholar Program (RISP), for the 2017 -2018 academic year.

The Program is designed to provide partial support to Roma students who are citizens of one of the following Program countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine, for pursuing Master, Doctorate, or Postdoctoral education outside their home country or country of residence.

The aim of the scholarship is to promote academic mobility of Roma students and support their academic integration internationally.

Note: For each academic year, the total number of RISP scholarships is determined by a combination of funds availability and the demand for scholarship.

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REF Scholarship Program 

Submission Deadline: July 25th 2017

Note: before you start the application process we strongly advise you to:

  • read carefully the Application Guidelines before you go to the Online Application Form (OAF), in order to be able to understand the requirements and ensure successful compliance and completion of your application;
  • start filling in and completing your application form as early as possible, and before the expiry of the deadline.

Please contact the coordinator (ebader@romaeducationfund.org) only in case you require clarifications that are not found in the Application Guidelines.

Important:

It is mandatory to fulfill and complete the following steps, in their logical sequence.
STEP 1: complete (or update) the Personal Information;
STEP 2: complete (or update) the Survey; and
STEP 3: Access the List of Applications, select the chosen scholarship scheme, complete it, and submit it.

The OAF can be successfully submitted only if it is fully completed, and only if STEP 1 and STEP 2 are fully completed as well.

Please keep in mind that in case you are a renewal, meaning you have previously filled in Personal Information and the Survey, you will need to revisit both sections and correct /modify the information as needed, to reflect properly on your current situation.

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Contents

I. GENERAL INFORMATION

II. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

III. STAGES OF APPLICATION

STAGE ONE - Submission of the Online Application Form (OAF)

STAGE TWO – ENROLMENT VERIFICATION

IV. DECISION MAKING MECHANISM

A. SELECTION CRITERIA

B. SELECTION PROCESS

Step One – Eligibility Checking

Step Two – Evaluation of application

Step Three– Submission of Enrollment Certificates (2017-2018 academic year)

Step Four – Finalization of the Selection Process

V. COMMUNICATION OF SELECTION PROCESS OUTCOME

VI. APPEAL MECHANISM /CONTESTATIONS


I. GENERAL INFORMATION
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  • REF can support an applicant, throughout his/her studies, for a maximum of 8 years; through the RISP scheme the support is available for maximum 5 years, as follows:
  • one Master degree, for maximum 1 year in integrated study model, and for maximum 2 years within Bologna system; one Doctorate degree, for maximum 3 years and only the first 3 years of the PhD studies; one Postdoctoral degree, for maximum one year.
  • The grant amount under RISP can reach a maximum of 9,050 EUR /per academic year.
  • The scholarship grant is meant to be used for one or more of the following purposes:
  • Tuition and exam fees: first and most important expense category that REF will consider is to ensure tuition fee is secured, either covered in full by university or third party entities (i.e. sponsors, foundations, institutions, etc.), or matched with REF’s support;
  • Living expenses: expenses other than tuition fees, in case tuition fee amount is secured  by any of the above-mentioned sources or combination;
  • Other: travel/transportation academic books and materials, health insurance, etc.

REF SP does not guarantee that the scholarship amount will cover partial or full tuition for a selected beneficiary.

  • The scholarship support is awarded to successful applicants only for the academic year for which they entered the scholarship competition (e.g. 2017-2018 academic year); students who are interested in obtaining scholarship in the consecutive academic years must submit new application and enter the competition of each scholarship cycle.
  1. REF SP will prioritize on natural sciences, IT and engineering, interdisciplinary sciences, medical studies, law and legal studies, as well as on pedagogical studies. Accordingly, applicants pursuing such studies will receive bonus points in the scholarship competition.

Note: those applicants who will indicate in their online application form that they pursue /or plan to pursue studies in any of the prioritized fields but will not be in position to confirm enrollment (in autumn) for the 2017-18 academic year, will have their final score re-adjusted, with the bonus points withdrawn, and their position in the final ranking changed accordingly.



IMPORTANT

Those applicants who are residents or have carried out their main activity (studies, work, etc.) for more than a total of 12 months over the last five years in the country where they wish to pursue their studies within RISP, are not eligible; Exception in the eligibility could be made only for former RISP beneficiaries, that started their international studies (moved for a first time) with REF SP support in the past 2 years;

  • Example: RISP applicant received scholarship support in 2015-2016 AY for the year one of MA studies, but in the next academic year’s RISP competition the applicant was not successful to receive a RISP scholarship. The applicant is still eligible to apply for the year one of PhD studies, despite the fact that it spent more than 12 months in the university country without RISP support.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • BA studies are not eligible for RISP support;
  • RISP scholarship beneficiaries are not automatically granted the full amount of 9,050 EUR. The amount of scholarship per applicant is estimated by the International Selection Board (ISB), taking into consideration the specific of the hosting university, specialization, location, and estimated housing /accommodation, and living expenses;
  • It is not possible to apply for additional funds for the same academic year after the scholarship has been awarded;
  • The scholarship is not automatically awarded for the subsequent academic year; students can renew their application subject to successful completion of the academic year for which they were recipients of RISP scholarship;
  • The applicants may apply to different REF scholarship schemes simultaneously, if eligible and according to eligibility criteria of each scheme. At the conclusion of the selection process, if accepted for more than one REF scholarship scheme, the concerned applicants must choose only one scholarship and formally notify REF SP of their decision;
  • In case of applications of comparable quality, preference will be given to applicants who hadn`t yet been supported in obtaining  a higher education degree with REF SP financial support;

o Example: if student A graduated already a BA degree for which s/he received REF SP scholarship support and applies for financial support to study in MA, while student B applies for REF SP support to study in MA for the first time, preference will be given to student B.

The application process for REF Scholarship Program is conducted online, through the Online Application System (OAS) and consists of two stages:

  1. Submission of the Online Application Form (OAF);
  2. Enrolment verification: submission of Enrollment Certificate, and of Tuition Fee Certificate (if applicable); stage two is applicable only to those candidates who will have succeeded in the competition (further details regarding the selection process).

Conflict of Interest

Applicants who are employees (fixed positions) of Open Society Foundations (OSF), or of national foundations of the Soros Foundations Network (SFN), as well as of Roma Education Fund, are not eligible for REF scholarship.

Important: the situation of failure of applicants to promptly notify their Program Coordinator of the situations of Conflict of Interest, will lead to respective applicants’ disqualification from the REF Scholarship Program competition.

Communication

In order to ensure that the Scholarship Program can communicate properly with its applicants and beneficiaries, with regard to all requests and information related to the submitted application, or beneficiaries’ academic status, the applicants must:

  • use an active and personal e-mail account from reliable e-mail service providers (Gmail, Yahoo), which is checked regularly for any REF SP correspondence;
  • notify the Program through the country coordinator, via email, immediately in case of any change regarding your email address, with full explanation, and requesting formally to update your email address in the SP Online Application System (OAS). Please note that changing of the email address in the OAS should be required only in justified /objective situations.

Further inquiries /complaints will not be considered, unless the above requirements for electronic communication are respected.


II. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
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Eligibility criteria of the REF Scholarship Program sets standards according to which applicants’ academic standing and qualifications are assessed. Successfully submitted applications are screened against eligibility criteria. The applicants who do not meet the eligibility criteria are not further considered in the academic competition of the Program.

In order to be eligible in the RISP scholarship competition, applicants must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Declare themselves openly as Roma;
  2. Have been (or will be) accepted at a state accredited university to pursue studies for obtaining a  Master, Doctorate, or Post-Doctorate degree, in a country other than his/her home country as full-time students in the 2017-2018 academic year;
  3. Students pursuing BA studies are NOT eligible to apply;
    •    the home country, or country of residence, must be one of the REF SP Program countries, as follows: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Turkey;
  4. Distance and part-time learning students are not eligible for scholarship support under all RISP scheme;
  5. REF SP renewal applicants in the situation of repeat year (students who received a REF scholarship in the previous academic year(s) and are applying to renew their scholarship for the same study year), are not eligible in the scholarship competition;
  6. REF SP accepts as eligible only those applications that pursue forward going studies;

    Example: if an applicant graduated MA, the proposed level of study in REF SP competition should be for the subsequent upper study level, in this case, for     PHD /Doctorate studies. Another illustration of ineligibility would be: graduates of PHD studies applying for MA, studies, or MA graduates applying for a second MA studies;
  7. REF SP accepts as eligible only those applications where studies are being pursued within the official conventional length of a degree (e.g. if a student pursuing MA studies of 2 years length will request scholarship for the 3rd year, due to prolongation -even if permissible by university-, the application will not be considered eligible);
  8. The period allowed by universities for students to prepare their final thesis (which does not require students’ mandatory attendance to seminaries /colloquiums, courses, lectures, mandatory practice, or examination) is not eligible for scholarship support;
  9. Submit a complete and compliant Online Application Form (OAF) by the Program’s set deadline.
Important: Applications which do not meet these eligibility criteria are not considered further in the scholarship competition; non-eligible applicants will be notified by REF SP after the closing of the eligibility checking process.


III. STAGES OF APPLICATION
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In order to be considered for scholarship support in the academic year 2017-2018, applicants must comply with the Program deadlines of: Stage one - Submission of Online Application Form deadline(s), per country and per scheme (where applicable), and with the: Stage two – Submission of Enrollment Certificate, and of Tuition Fee Certificate (if applicable), as described in detail below.


STAGE ONE - Submission of the Online Application Form (OAF)

Submission deadline: 25th July 2017

Important

Online Application Form (OAF) must be completed exhaustively; applicants must provide all the requested information and valid documents.
It is mandatory to fulfill and complete the following steps in their logical sequence. → STEP 1: Personal Information; → STEP 2: Survey; and → STEP 3: Access the List of Applications, select the chosen scholarship scheme, complete and submit it.

The Online Application Form (OAF) can be submitted only if it is fully completed, and only if STEP 1 and STEP 2 are fully completed as well.

Complete and compliant OAF contains:

Written assignments (OAF page 3)

  • Completed written assignment of Academic Goals - Statement of Purpose that builds on academic accomplishments and expresses applicant’s academic goals, demonstrating commitment and motivation to study for the pursued or intended degree; Students applying for 1st year PhD studies scholarship support should also submit a summary of their PhD research proposal;
  • Completed written assignment of Essay on Roma Issues, complying with the instructions specified in the OAF.
  • Provide exact, realistic estimations, and detailed information on the requested budget for the 2017-2018 academic year (as specified in the Financial Information part of OAF) including the supporting documentation. The applicant should indicate all existing and submitted requests for financial support (universities or third parties) or any possible additional funding they may receive for the same study period;
NOTE: Expenses related to obtaining VISA are eligible and can be included into the budget. However, it is solely the applicant’s responsibility to make all the necessary and timely arrangements to enter into possession of VISA and be able to arrive in the respective country of study on time.


ACADEMIC DISHONESTY (plagiarism and self-plagiarism)
REF SP applies specific criteria in dealing with this matter. All details can be seen by accessing this link.

DOCUMENTS TO BE ATTACHED /UPLOADED INTO REF SP’S ONLINE APPLICATION SYSTEM
*Please make quality scans, in color, to ensure that all information is clearly readable (blurry documents will not be considered).
*The maximum size of a single document must not exceed 5MB.

  • ID Card/passport scanned copy of both sides;
  • Official transcript of academic grades as specified here;

- PhD students need to submit transcript of grades as well, if available; in case there was no grade examination in the academic year, the PHD students must submit a progress report issued by their supervisors;

  • Reference Letters: RISP applicants must upload to their online application form two detailed, informative and relevant Reference Letters (RL) written specifically to serve the application to REF SP (as specified here);

Note: in case applicants encounter difficulties –for objective reasons– in obtaining any of the above required documents, or upload them into the OAS, they should notify via email the Program Coordinator, before the expiry of the application submission deadline.

The notification should contain details about the encountered challenge and the proofs /evidence supporting the claim.

STAGE TWO – ENROLLMENT VERIFICATION

Deadline: Autumn 2017.

By the deadline of STAGE TWO, applicants need to submit evidence of enrolment in full-time university studies, by presentation of an original university enrolment certificate and tuition fee certificate

  • Official Enrolment Certificate/Tuition Fee certificate - must be scanned and uploaded as attachment to the OAS and must fulfill all requirements as specified here.

IV. DECISION MAKING MECHANISM
The decision making mechanism is based on specific selection criteria and selection process as detailed below:


A. SELECTION CRITERIA
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Selection criteria for REF scholarship schemes take into account the validity and quality of the information, and of the submitted documents. In order to maximize their chances in competition, the applicants must strive to comply fully with the selection criteria, present a competitive application, and adequate and relevant materials and information.

REF SP uses specific terminology to distinguish between categories of applicants, according to which evaluation criteria varies.

The list of evaluation criteria and weight of each criterion for the calculation of the final score of the application is specified here.

Categories of Applicants: updated on 09 June 2017!

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  1. Renewal applicants - students who received a REF RISP scholarship in the previous academic year (2016-2017) and are applying to renew their scholarship either at the same academic level or higher.
  2. New applicants at each academic level (freshmen) – applicants that have never received any RISP support; REF SP also considers those applicants to be freshman who did receive RISP support before the 2016-17 academic year.

B. SELECTION PROCESS 

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Step One – Eligibility Checking

Technical verification of the applications’ compliance with the Program’s eligibility criteria.
This step is conducted by the Program Coordinator.

Step Two – Evaluation of application

The evaluation is carried out by the REF SP International Selection Board (ISB) members. The ISB members are independently reviewing online the submitted applications, one by one, and assign scores to each application according to the pre-established set of criteria. The final score per application results from the average of the ISB independent scores. The system ranks all the applications based on their scores, in descending order, from highest to lowest. Based on the ranking system and the position applicants occupy on the list they are either shortlisted (on accepted conditionally list, or on the waiting list), or rejected in competition.

Step Three – SKYPE Interviews with REF SP

REF SP invites shortlisted applicants for a mandatory interview, via skype.

Step Four – Submission of Enrollment Certificates (2017-2018 academic year)
The applicants from both ’accepted conditionally’, and ‘waiting list’ categories will be required to submit by the Program’s  set deadline an official and valid Enrollment Certificate proving that they are enrolled in an eligible academic program.

In addition to the enrollment certificate, at this stage applicants will be expected to submit confirmation of the claimed alternative sources of support (under section D II of their RISP application) or obtained in the meantime, such as  academic, study, social, or any other type of scholarship /stipend, or benefits (i.e. dormitory, or meals) from state institutions (Ministry of Education, Universities, Erasmus, etc.), or from an international and /or private entity that they will receive during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Note: REF SP reserves its right to accept late enrolments (for proven objective reasons) only if the studies start before the closing of the year 2017.

Step Five – Finalization of the Selection Process
After the completion of the above mentioned steps, the system is updated with the final status of each applicant from the lists of "accepted conditionally list" and "waiting list" candidates, and the final lists of scholarship beneficiaries is generated.

The applicants who are ranked within the "accepted conditionally" category and who fulfilled the requirements of the second Program’s deadline, are becoming beneficiaries of the program.

  • Applicants ranked within the "waiting list" category can only be considered for scholarship, in case applicants from "accepted conditionally" category fail to fulfill the requirements; in such situation, the system is automatically replacing them with applicants from the 'waiting list', based on the score.


V. COMMUNICATION OF SELECTION PROCESS OUTCOME
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The Program communicates the outcomes of the selection process to the applicants via the e-mail address with which they registered their Online Application System (OAS) account, on two occasions:

Firstly, after Step Three mentioned above (end of August) when applicants will receive either:

  • an Accepted Conditionally or Waiting list Letter, containing instructions for further steps to be undertaken by the applicant in order to stay in the competition; or
  • an official Rejection Letter, with specified reasons for rejection;

Secondly, after Step Five mentioned above (beginning of September), when applicants will receive either:

  • an official Notification Letter; or
  • an official Rejection Letter, with specified reasons for rejection.

VI. APPEAL MECHANISM / CONTESTATIONS

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The applicants have the possibility to contest the outcomes of the Scholarship Program’s competition, within one month time from the moment of receiving the notification from the Program.

The appeals /contestations should be sent to REF SP, only to this email address: REFSP_contestations@romaeducationfund.org

Appeals /contestations sent to other email addresses than the one specified above will not be considered or acknowledged. Furthermore, REF SP requests applicants to use this email address only for appeals /contestations regarding selection process outcome.

For any other enquiries please contact the Program Coordinator, and only in case you require clarifications that are not available in the Application Guidelines.

The REF SP categorizes the contestations and is giving them a resolution. Depending on the nature of appeals, REF SP may decide to defer them to an independent legal advisor/consultant.

IMPORTANT

  • Transfer from one university/faculty/field of studies to another, per degree, is permitted by the Program only once.
  • Any kind of change, as described above, must be notified to the Program Coordinator, ideally prior to the transfer taking place.
  • Students may apply to different REF scholarship schemes simultaneously, if eligible and according to eligibility criteria of each scheme. At the closing of the selection process, if accepted for more than one REF scholarship scheme, the concerned applicants will have the obligation to choose only one scholarship and formally notify via e-mail the Program Coordinator of their decision.

Principle of preference in competition

  • In case of applications of comparable quality, preference will be given to applicants who did not obtain a higher education degree with REF SP financial support.

Example: if student A graduated already a BA degree for which s/he received REF SP scholarship support, and applies for financial support to study in MA, while student B applies for REF SP support, for the first time (not supported by REF SP previously), to study in MA, preference will be given to student B.

REF SP reserves its right to accept late enrollments (for proven objective reasons) only if the studies start before the closing of the year 2017, and only if this situation is transmitted to the Program Coordinator through a notification via email, before the expiry of the deadline for submission of the Enrollment Certificate.

DISCLAIMER
REF reserves the right to decline provision of support to any applicant whose conduct and /or affiliation with groups or other entities of which goals and activities are incompatible with the values and principles promoted by the Roma Education Fund and its pursued goals.


Access the Online Application System