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

[Български] [Bosanski] [Čeština] [Crnogorski jezik] [Gjuha shqipe] [Hrvatski] [Magyar] [Македонски] [Română] [Slovenský] [Srpski] [Türkçe]

The call for applications for the 2019-2020 Scholarship Cycle is now open.

  • Deadline: 15th May 2019 for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Kosovo
  • Deadline: 17th May 2019 for North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Turkey

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.


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 Memorial University Scholarship (RMUSP), for the 2019 -2020 academic year.

RMUSP is a merit-based academic scholarship for Roma students who are citizens or permanent residents of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Turkey. Eligible applicants must be pursuing Bachelor, Master, or undivided studies, or Doctorate degrees at state-accredited universities in their home country or country of residence.

For each scholarship cycle, the number of RMUSP 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 number of applications in past years and the existence of alternative scholarship programs in a given country.






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





Step One – Eligibility Checking

Step Two – Evaluation of application

Step Three – Personal Interviews

Step Four – Submission of Enrollment Certificates (2019-2020 academic year)

Step Five – Finalization of the Selection Process





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  • REF can support an applicant, throughout his/her studies, for a maximum of 8 years, as follows:
    • 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 RMUSP basic scholarship is calculated on the basis of 80 EUR per academic month.
    • Depending on the funds availability, the REF SP may cover partial or full tuition fee expenses as part of the scholarship.
  • The RMUSP scholarship is meant to only partially cover school-related expenses such as textbooks, exam fees and living expenses.;
  • The scholarship support is awarded to successful applicants only for the academic year for which they entered the scholarship competition (e.g. 2018-2019 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 the REF Scholarship Program is conducted through an Online Application System (OAS).

    1. REF SP prioritizes natural sciences, IT and engineering, interdisciplinary sciences, medical studies and pedagogy studies. Accordingly, applicants pursuing such studies will receive bonus points in the scholarship competition.

    2. Following the Program philosophy to create a critical mass of Roma students who remain solidly connected to the Roma community, since 2017 REF SP introduced a new element in the competition for scholarship – voluntary activities in favor of the Roma communities.  The new element plays a significant weight in the overall score of the application, details here (link to evaluation grid)

    To help you identify voluntary activities, REF SP has prepared a list of activities (here) that will serve as an example of what REF SP considers as voluntary commitment favoring the advancement of Roma communities.

    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: Failure by an applicant to promptly notify their Country Coordinator of a Conflict of Interest will lead to disqualification from the REF Scholarship Program competition.


    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


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    Applicants must fulfill the following requirements in order to be eligible in the RMUSP scholarship competition:

    1.    Declare themselves openly Roma

    2.    Are currently students, or will be accepted as students, for obtaining a Bachelor, Master, or Doctorate degree at a state-accredited university, in their home country or country of residence, in the 2019-2020 academic year.

    o    The home country, or country of residence, must be one of the RMUSP Program countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Turkey.

    3.    Distance learning in not eligible

    •  BA part-time studies are not eligible for scholarship support, under all REF SP schemes.
    •  Part-time studies are only eligible on Master and Doctorate level of studies.

    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 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 seminars /colloquiums, courses, lectures, mandatory practice, or examination) is not eligible for scholarship support.

    8.    Only submitted, complete and compliant Online Application Form (OAF) are considered eligible.

    Important: Applications which do not meet these eligibility criteria are not considered further in the scholarship competition. Ineligible applicants will be notified by REF SP after the closing of the eligibility checking process.


    • Transfer from one university/faculty/field of studies to another, per degree, is permitted by the Program only once.
      • Your Country Coordinator must be notified of any kind of change, 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.


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    In order to be considered for scholarship support in the academic year 2019-2020, 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)

    • RMUSP deadline is 15th May 2019 for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Kosovo.
    • RMUSP deadline is 17th May 2019 for North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Turkey.


    Important: It is mandatory to fulfill and complete the following steps, in their logical sequence.

    → STEP 1: completed (or updated) Personal Information

    → STEP 2: completed (or updated) Survey

    → 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 both STEP 1 and STEP 2 are fully completed as well.

    Note: Students renewing their applications also need to revisit both sections and correct/modify the information as needed, to reflect properly on their current status.

    Complete and compliant OAF contains:

    1.Written assignments (OAF page 3)

       1.1 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;

        1.2 Completed written 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.

    2. 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 5 MB

       2.1 ID Card/passport
    scanned copy of both sides;

    2.2 Official transcript of academic grades as specified here;

       2.3 Reference Letter
    (RL) as specified here

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

      2.4 Roma-related activities/voluntary support-related documents
    Any proof of evidence (documents, photos, video links, social media posts, articles, papers) demonstrating voluntary activities in support of any Roma community. The program accepts as eligible activities that took place after June 2018 to date.

    Additionally, applicants can provide support letter from the host of the voluntary activity, (NGO, institutions, community representatives and etc.) where the voluntary activity took place.
    The support letter must be verified with stamp (if applicable), signature and contact details.  

    Important: Please be aware that the support letter cannot be a replacement of the mandatory Reference Letter from legally registered Roma NGO.


    Deadline: Autumn 2019.

    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 OAS and must fulfill all requirements as specified here.


    The decision making mechanism is based on specific selection criteria and selection process as detailed below: 


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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.


    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 Boards (NSB). National Selection Boards (NSB) have three to five members, representatives of civil society and academia, citizens of 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 (to the accepted conditionally list or to the waiting list), or rejected in competition.

    Step Three – Personal Interviews

    Freshmen-to-be applicants (i.e. 1st year Bachelor, 1st year Master, and 1st year Doctorate, in 2019-2020 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 (2019-2020 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.

    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.


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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 October - November), when applicants will receive either:
      • an official Notification Letter; or
      • a Rejection Letter, with specified reasons for rejection.


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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 exclusively to this email address

    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.


    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