RHSP 2017-2018 Application Guidelines

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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. 


Roma Health Scholarship Program Goal
RHSP’s goal is to transform the medical system from within, making it more inclusive and preventing discrimination and human rights violations against Roma. By investing into building a generation of Roma medical professionals and Roma health care providers, the program aims to tackle and help reforming some of the problematic current practices, to challenge and dismantle negative stereotypes and attitudes. Furthermore, the RHSP initiative aims to help increasing the accessibility of health services to Roma, boost their trust in the health care systems and fully benefit of health care services.

The aim of the REF Scholarship Program RHSP scheme is to provide support for medical studies, by provision of scholarship, mentorship and advocacy training, for Roma students in four countries: Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia. In order to address the need of developing a generation of Roma professional medical staff, REF SP will implement the scholarship component of this initiative, by providing scholarship support for Roma students pursuing education aimed at attaining degrees of Medical Nurses and /or Medical Doctors at state accredited /recognized Medical and Medical-Vocational schools in the countries of their residence.

The Roma Education Fund’s Scholarship Program (REF SP) announces the opening of its yearly scholarship cycle of the Roma Health Scholarship Program (RHSP), for the renewal Roma students pursuing Medical Education at state-accredited Medical Universities or Medical-vocation schools in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia, for the 2017 -2018 academic year.

The program will only accept renewed applications, i.e. applications submitted by the RHSP beneficiaries of the 2016-2017 academic year. The funds for RHSP are made available by Open Society Foundations (OSF), through the Roma Health Project of the Public Health Program.

Deadline for submission of applications  is: 11th 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 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 found in the Application Guidelines.

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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.

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

VII. ADDITIONAL COMPONENTS

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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 Medical Degree, with transfer to another school/specialization allowed only once;
  • One Undergraduate Medical degree, with transfer to another school/specialization allowed only once;
  • One Graduate Medical degree, for maximum three years (Medical Residents), and
  • One Postgraduate Medical degree, for maximum two years (Doctoral Studies).

The RHSP scholarship is meant to cover school-related expenses such as 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. 2016-2017 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.


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 Enrolment 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 here ).

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.

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.


II. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

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

  1. Declare themselves openly as Roma;
  2. Be current RHSP beneficiaries from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia (for the 2016-2017 academic year), and apply to renew their application, for the 2017-2018 academic year;
  3. 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;
  4. Distance learning, as well as BA part-time studies are not eligible for scholarship support, under all REF SP schemes;
  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. Students whose applications will be declared ineligible will be notified by REF SP after the conclusion 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)

    RHSP deadline for Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia 11th May 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:

    The complete and compliant Online Application Form (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).

    • 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 – ENROLMENT 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 Enrollment 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 and present a competitive application and adequate and relevant materials.

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

    EVALUATION CRITERIA

    Criteria

    Considerations for the evaluation

    Value in relation to the total points

    1. Grade point average (GPA)

    • GPA value calculated in accordance with requested documents.
    • Details on the way in which the Program will calculate the GPA for the competition is available here.

    40%

    2. Academic Goals - Statement of Purpose

    • Style and fluency of writing;
    • Comprehensibility, and coherence of expressed ideas and information;
    • Ability to articulate sound academic goals;
    • Commitment and motivation to study;
    • Academic progress and accomplishments from previous year/s, if renewal applicant.

    15%

    3. Essay on Roma issues

    • Evidence of ideas and opinions stemming from personal experiences and involvement in Roma-related activities;
    • Comprehensibility and coherence of expressed ideas and  information;
    • Ability to articulate sound thoughts and arguments;
    • Awareness and knowledge of the Roma issues;
    • Style and fluency of writing.

    10%

    4. Roma-related activities/voluntary support

    • Participation in voluntary-based Roma-related activities, initiatives, projects, and events, conducted either through organizations and /or institutions, or through informal groups of initiative, or on private /individual basis.
    • for an inventory of potential voluntary activities, please access the following link

    30%

    5. Reference letter

    • Level of personal skills and qualities of the referred person, illustrated through practical experience(s);
    • Relevant details regarding applicants’ academic achievements;
    • Involvement in Roma-related activities.

    5%

    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 – Submission of Enrollment Certificates (2017-2018 academic year)
    Step Three – Submission of Enrollment Certificates /Tuition Fee certificate (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 they are enrolled in an eligible academic program, as included in their OAF.

    In addition to the enrolment certificate, at this stage it will be mandatory for applicants to submit information on potential situation of Conflict of Interest and Cumulative benefits.

    Step Four – 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 Two 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 Four mentioned above (end of October - November), 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 may 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.
    o    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

    • 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.

      VII. ADDITIONAL COMPONENTS
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      In addition to the basic academic scholarship, ongoing RHSP beneficiaries can apply for additional financial support under:

      • Additional components (grants providing financial support for the ongoing RHSP beneficiaries pursuing foreign language courses, computer courses and attending academic conferences) the guidelines and the offline application forms details are available here;
      • RHSP Small Scale Community Project Grants is meant to promote and strengthen the philosophy of community participation among RHSP beneficiaries (both current and alumni), and provide them the opportunity to gain experience in designing and implementing a community project and hence help Roma communities and develop a set of skills that will contribute to their further personal and professional development. Guidelines and offline application forms will be posted here.

      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 objectives.

      Access the Online Application System