LAW and Humanities Program (LHP) ~ APPLICATION GUIDELINES ~

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



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The Law and Humanities Program (LHP) scholarship scheme is a joint initiative of Roma Education Fund and the Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ).


PROGRAM RATIONALE 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 REF SP announces the opening of its yearly scholarship cycle of LHP, for the 2017-2018 academic year.

LHP offers merit-based open competition academic scholarships for Roma students who are citizens or permanent residents of Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia. Eligible applicants must be pursuing Bachelor, Master, undivided studies, or Doctorate degrees at state-accredited universities in their home country, or country of residence.  However, up to 20 percent of scholarships may be also offered to vocational-level students studying in specializations that can lead to university studies.

The Law and Humanities Program (LHP) is co-funded by Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ)" and the Roma Education Fund.

For each scholarship cycle, the number of LHP scholarships is determined by the availability of funds in the REF SP. The number of scholarships allocated in each program country is decided based on the following factors:

  • the demand for scholarships as expressed in the past years, measured by number of applications;
  • the existence of alternative scholarship programs in a given country, as well as the existence of student loan schemes; and
  • the estimated Roma population size in each country, relative to the total Roma population in the 3 LHP countries.

Deadline for submission of the Online Application Form (OAF): 16th of May 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 understand properly 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 Country Coordinator only in case you require clarifications that are not available 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 – ENROLLMENT VERIFICATION

IV. DECISION MAKING MECHANISM

A. SELECTION CRITERIA

B. SELECTION PROCESS

Step One – Eligibility Checking

Step Two – Evaluation of application

Step Three – Personal Interviews

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

Step Five – 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, as follows:
    • One Vocational studies degree for maximum 4 years;
    • One Bachelor degree, for maximum 4 years in integrated study model, or maximum 3 years within the Bologna system;
    • One Master degree, for maximum 1 year in integrated non-Bologna study system, 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.
  • The amount of the LHP basic scholarship is calculated on the basis of 130 EUR per academic month.
  • The LHP scholarship is meant to cover school-related expenses, such as for textbooks, exam fees, and living expenses, partially;
  • 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 a new application (OAF) and enter the competition of each scholarship cycle.
    • Depending on the funds availability, the REF SP may also cover partial or full tuition fee expenses for a maximum of 1,000 EUR per academic year, as part of the scholarship; however, REF SP does not guarantee that the scholarship amount will cover partial or full tuition to a successful applicant;
  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.

Notes:

  • those applicants who will indicate in their OAF 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 2017-2018 academic year, will have their final score re-adjusted, with the bonus points withdrawn, and their position in the final ranking changed accordingly;
  • Applicants in Vocational Education studies do not qualify for bonus points for priority studies.

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

  1. Submission of the Online Application Form (OAF);
  2. Enrollment 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).

Cumulative Benefits Policy

Applicants who will receive scholarship support from a third-party entity (institutions, governmental programs, international programs, private donors) during the 2017-2018 academic year, have the obligation to notify in written form their Country Coordinator about this fact, from the moment they receive confirmation from the respective third-party. The notification should include details such as: full title of the granting entity, the amount, the period covered, and the purpose.

  • Please note that the conventional University scholarships (excellency, study, social) do not constitute cumulative benefit and should not be reported to REF SP.

The cumulative benefit criterion, for those who receive scholarship support from third-party entities, will be applied when a student receives scholarship support which is equal or bigger than what REF usually would offer for that applicant, considering the level of study pursued, and level of tuition fees.

Important: the situation of failure of applicants to promptly notify their Country Coordinator of the fact that they benefit of such alternative scholarship support, will lead to respective applicants’ disqualification from the REF Scholarship Program competition.

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

  1. Declare themselves openly as Roma;
  2. Are currently students, or will be accepted as students for obtaining Vocational, Bachelor, Master, or Doctorate degree at a state-accredited university, in their home country or country of residence, in the 2017-2018 academic year; please note that only up to 20% of available scholarships will be granted for vocational-level studies;

    - the home country, or country of residence, must be one of the LHP Program countries, as follows: Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine;
  3. Distance learning, as well as BA part-time studies are not eligible for scholarship support, under all REF SP schemes;
  4. 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;
  5. 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, or BA studies, or MA graduates applying for a second MA, or for BA studies;
  6. 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 BA studies of 3 years length will request scholarship for the 4th year, due to prolongation -even if permissible by university-, the application will not be considered eligible);
  7. 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;
  8. 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)

  • Deadline for application submission: 16th May 2017.
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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;
  • Completed written assignment of Essay on Roma Issues, complying with the instructions specified in the OAF.

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 allowed size for a single attachment is 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;

  • At least one detailed, informative and relevant Reference Letter (RL), written specifically to serve the application to REF SP (as specified here)

- Important: It is mandatory that at least one RL is issued by a legally registered Roma organization /foundation from the respective country.

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 their Country 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.

The date per country will be communicated by REF SP only to the applicants who will remain in competition for the stage two. 

Official Enrolment Certificate/Tuition fee certificate - must be scanned and uploaded as attachment to the OAF 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:  

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(1). Renewal applicants - students who received a REF scholarship in the previous academic year(s) and are applying to renew their scholarship for the same academic level (Bachelor, Master, Doctorate);

(2). New applicants, divided in the following two sub-categories:

(2a). Freshmen-to-be applicants – those who are going to study in the first year of a certain academic level (i.e. 1st year BA, 1st year MA, 1st year PhD).

- Students who received REF scholarship for a lower academic degree and are applying for a REF scholarship for a higher academic degree are also in this category (example: former REF SP beneficiary in BA, applying for 1st year MA).

(2b). Not-Freshmen-to-be applicants – those who are going to study in 2nd year or above and did not receive REF scholarship before within the same academic level.

B. SELECTION PROCESS

Step One – Eligibility Checking

Technical verification of the applications’ compliance with the Program’s eligibility criteria.

This step is conducted by the REF SP Country Coordinators.  

Step Two – Evaluation of application

The evaluation is carried out by the REF SP National Selection Board (NSB) members in the respective program countries. The NSB members are independently reviewing, online, the submitted applications, one by one, and assigning scores to each application according to the pre-established set of evaluation criteria. The final score per application results from the average of the NSB independent scores. The system ranks automatically all the applications based on their final 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 – Personal Interviews

Freshmen-to-be applicants (i.e. 1st year Vocational, 1st year BA, 1st year Master, and 1st year Doctorate, in 2017-2018 academic year) may be required to participate in a personal interview with the National Selection Board members. In such situation, the personal interview becomes mandatory.

  • In the largest program countries the list of applicants to be interviewed will be determined by the REF SP using computer-based random selection of up to 60 applicants; those freshmen students not entering the random selection for interview, will be assessed by the evaluation criteria for 2b category of students.

Note: Those applicants who will be invited to attend the personal interview and will not comply with this requirement, will be disqualified from the scholarship competition.

After the interviews are conducted, and scores are assigned in the system, the ranking of candidates and the classification of applicants into the “accepted conditionally list” and “waiting list” is updated automatically by the system. 

The invitation for personal interviews, as well as the venue and other administrative details, will be sent to the concerned applicants via e-mail, by the Program’s Country Coordinators. The transportation costs to attend the interview will be covered by REF SP.

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 Enrolment Certificate proving that they are enrolled in an eligible academic program, as included in their OAF..

In addition to the enrollment certificate, at this stage the applicants who receive /or are expecting to receive alternative (third-party) scholarship support, must notify the Country Coordinator, as described in the Cumulative benefits section.

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, per country and per scholarship scheme, 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 July - 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 (end of September -October), when applicants will receive either:
    • an official Notification Letter; or
    • a 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 your Country 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 your Country 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 Country Coordinator of their decision.

Principle of preference in competition

  • Considering the limited support of up to 20% for Vocational studies, preference in the competition among the pool of the vocational students will be given to the renewals.
  • 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 Country 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.

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