The REF Scholarship Program (REF/SP) offers merit-based open competition academic scholarships for Roma students pursuing Bachelor, Master, or Doctorate degrees at state-accredited universities, according to eligibility criteria set for Program’s particular schemes. In the case of RHSP scheme, support is provided as well at the medical vocational level.

In order to assist the interested candidates to successfully complete and submit their application, the Program provides general information on criteria and selection procedures below. More detailed information can be obtained in the particular scheme’s Guidelines.

Under the Roma Memorial University Scholarship Program (RMUSP), Law and Humanities Program (LHP), and Roma International Scholar Program (RISP) schemes REF can support the same applicant throughout his or her studies for the following: 

- one Bachelor degree, for maximum 4 /5 years (if integrated study model), with transfer to another university /faculty /field of studies being allowed only once;

- one Master degree, for maximum two years;

- one Doctorate degree, for maximum three years.


1. Decision making mechanism

2. Selection process

3. Communication of selection decisions

4. Eligibility Criteria

5. Selection Criteria

6. Further considerations

7. Evaluation Process


1. Decision making mechanism 
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REF/SP is responsible in the selection process for the eligibility check only, as made by Country Coordinators. Further, REF/SP responsibility is to ensure that the established mechanism and criteria are observed and utilized accordingly by the relevant bodies, as explained bellow. Those interested in further details regarding the roles of SP and Country Coordinators are kindly invited to read the Operational Manual.

Under the RMUSP, LHP, and RHSP schemes the selection of applicants is carried out by a National Selection Board (NSB). The Selection Board members are contracted for their positions based on open competition and serve in the boards from 3 to 5 years. The Program strives to select representatives of academia and of Roma communities for the Selection Boards of each program country. NSB members in RHSP are appointed by the relevant ministries of countries in which this scheme is implemented. The International Selection Board (ISB) carries out the selection for the RISP scheme of the Program. The ISB Members are selected based on open competition and serve in the board from 3 to 5 years.


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

Step One: Verifying whether the requirements of the Eligibility criteria of the Program are met. The step consists of a technical verification of each application, which is done by the REF/SP staff.

Step Two: Evaluating the application content. The evaluation is carried out by the REF/SP NSB or ISB members in respective program countries. The selection board members review the submitted applications by assigning scores to each application according to a pre-established set of criteria and consequently by ranking all the applications from a particular scheme and country. Based on the ranking system, applicants are either shortlisted (on accepted conditionally list or on the waiting list), or rejected.

Step Three: Conducting personal interviews with the applicants (RMUSP, LHP, and RHSP) who are going to study in the first academic year of the level (Bachelor, Master, Doctorate, or in case of RHSP also vocational degree), in 2012-2013. The shortlisted applicants will be invited to a compulsory interview with the NSB members in each program country (see below details on interviews). After the interviews the ranking of candidates and the classification of applicants into the “accepted conditionally list” and “waiting list” in a program country is updated. 

Step Four: submission of enrolment certificates in universities (or in vocational schools for RHSP) for the 2012-2013 academic year: the shortlisted applicants will be also required to submit by the set deadline an enrolment certificate proving that they are enrolled in the academic program specified in the application in the 2012-2013 academic year. 

Step Five: finalization of the selection process: after the completion of the fourth steps mentioned above, the program reanalyzes the lists of shortlisted candidates to determine the final lists of beneficiaries. The shortlisted candidates who were ranked within the “accepted conditionally” list and who submitted an adequate enrollment certificate by the submission deadline become beneficiaries of the program. From the same category, those candidates who have not submitted an adequate enrolment certificate by the submission deadline are rejected and replaced with applicants from the waiting list.


3.  Communication of selection decisions
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The Program communicates the outcomes of the selection process to the applicants via e-mail, on two occasions:

  • Firstly, after Step Three mentioned above (end of July /beginning of August) when applicants will receive either an official Rejection Letter with specified reasons for rejection, or a Notification Letter containing instructions on further steps to be undertaken by the candidate in order to stay in the competition;
  • Secondly, after Step Five mentioned above (October) when applicants will receive either an official Rejection Letter with specified reasons for rejection, or an Acceptance Letter. 

The applicants may appeal against the National Selection Board’s decision within one month time from the moment of receiving the selection result from the Program. The appeals should be sent to REF/SP to the scholarships@romaeducationfund.org.
Please use this email address only for appeals. For other enquiries please contact the country coordinator.

The REF/SP team categorizes the appeals and is giving them a resolution. Depending on the nature of appeals, REF/SP may decide to forward appeals to the Scholarship Program Ombudsman, who reviews individual appeal cases based on the materials and evidence provided by the applicants, the Program, and the NSB or ISB.


4. Eligibility Criteria
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Eligibility criteria of the REF Scholarship Program set standards, according to which applicants’ qualify for the program. The eligibility check is done by REF/SP Country Coordinators who are screening the applications against eligibility criteria. The applicants who do not meet the eligibility criteria of the Program are not considered in the academic competition of the scholarship schemes. 

Eligibility Criteria (relevant for all Scholarship Schemes)

Applicants should:

declare themselves as Roma; 
declare as willing to appear publicly as Roma;
have been (or will be) accepted at a state accredited university in the upcoming academic year; persons planning to get enrolled in a university in the upcoming year, but not enrolled in one at the moment of application, are also eligible; please note that the home country and country of residence has to be one of the Program countries as listed under the additional eligibility criteria (see the list of eligible countries for each scholarship scheme below)
pursue studies for obtaining a Bachelor, Master, or Doctorate degree (or also medical vocational studies for RHSP);
submit a complete Online Application Form (OAF) by the program’s set deadline;
submit a Statement of Purpose that expresses their academic goals and/or accomplishments and shows their commitment and motivation to study (as specified in OAF);
submit an Essay based on the topic specified in the OAF;
provide an official transcript of the university grades from all completed academic years as well as the latest completed semester of September – December 2011. If the applicant has not been enrolled in school/university recently,  he or she should provide certified copies of the latest received grade transcripts and /or diplomas;
submit at least one detailed and informative Reference Letter, describing the academic performance and/or extra-curricular activities of the applicant.

Applicants who receive an academic scholarship from other organization(s) for the academic year 2012-2013, are not eligible for REF Scholarship Program. Employees of REF, the Open Society Foundations or national foundations of the Soros Foundations Network (SFN), as well as those individuals working on projects funded by the REF or who receive honoraria (consultants, fellowships) from REF or SFN, are not eligible for REF Scholarship. The applicants may apply to different REF scholarship schemes simultaneously if eligible 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 will be required to choose only one.

5. Selection Criteria
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Selection criteria for REF scholarship schemes take into account the quality of the information and documents submitted. The applicants must strive to comply with the selection criteria and present competitive application materials. The selection criteria for all Program countries and schemes are as follows:

competitive Grade Point Average (GPA); in case of higher-than-anticipated demand for scholarship support in Program countries, the GPA criterion may get more demanding;
The content and structure of the statement of purpose;
The academic quality and structure of the essay;
participation in academic seminars, conferences, workshops, summer schools, and/or competitions, including Roma-related activities, constitute an advantage in the overall score;
performance at the interview (for those applicants invited to the interview).


6. Further considerations
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Major considerations of the selection process of the Scholarship Program include the following:

- The Program classifies the applicants in two groups for further selection: renewal applicants and new applicants.

Renewal applicants - Students who received a REF scholarship for the previous academic year and are applying to renew their scholarship. 
New applicants– Students who did not receive a REF scholarship in the previous academic year, regardless of whether they received it in earlier years.

 - The Program has established a quota per country based on a combination of factors. Among these are estimation of Roma population ratio per country, availability of affirmative measures in tertiary education, and accessibility of EU student/loan funds of the potential applicant pool.

The Program has established GPA as one of the criteria for selection. The minimum GPA that applicants should have in order to be selected for the scholarship depends on the competition of each year.


7. Evaluation Process
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When evaluating the applications, the National Selection Board (NSB) members carefully review applicants’ responses to asset-based questions and requested documents /materials. In the applications, the NSB members make qualitative assessments on:

Style and the fluency of applicants’ writing;
Comprehensiveness of information provided;
Ability to clearly express the academic goals and/or accomplishments;
Commitment and motivation to study;
Understanding and awareness of issues particularly affecting Roma;
Academic progress from previous year/s (for renewal applicants).


The NSB members may disqualify applications based on the following reasons:

    a. The Statement of Purpose and Essay submitted are identical or very similar to those submitted by at least one other applicant;
    b. The Statement of Purpose and Essay submitted are identical or very similar to those submitted by the applicant in a previous scholarship cycle;
    c. Statement of Purpose or Essay submitted are identical or very similar to an external resource;
    d. The application was completed by someone other than the applicant (the NSB may consider random checks and use the application submitted as a basis for questions);
    e. The application contains false information or forged documents;
    f. Reference Letter is written by a relative or a personal friend of the applicant, or by a person who applied for REF scholarships for the current academic year, or who is currently receiving a REF scholarship.

Freshmen-to-be applicants (i.e. first year students at any level) from any country shortlisted for RHSP, LHP, or RMUSP from all program countries will be required to participate in a personal interview. The notification for personal interviews, along with the relevant coordinates, will be communicated to the shortlisted applicants via e-mail by the REF/SP Country Coordinators. The interviews will be conducted by the NSB members. Shortlisted applicants who will fail to attend the interviews will not be considered for the further selection process. The transportation costs to attend the interview will be reimbursed on the spot by the Country Coordinators.