Central European University in Budapest has announced a three-year grant of approximately €725,000 (nearly $1 million) from the VELUX Foundations to increase opportunities for postgraduate study for talented members of Europe's largest and most marginalized minority group.
The Roma Graduate Preparation Program is part of CEU's Roma Access Programs (RAP), in which between ten and twenty participants receive a full scholarship that includes room and board. The nine-month-long program will prepare Roma students for international English-language postgraduate studies in social sciences at top European and North American universities. Students in the program will take English language classes and academic writing courses, receive personalized tutoring in a discipline of their choice, audit master's level classes at CEU, receive academic guidance on the scholarship application process, and actively participate in public lectures, academic conferences, and seminars.
Largely concentrated in Central and Eastern Europe, the Roma people continue to experience widespread and pervasive discrimination, marginalization, and injustice. Due to such barriers, few Roma graduate from primary and secondary school, and they comprise fewer than 1 percent of students in higher education.
"RAP not only changed my way of thinking, but also gave me the possibility of perfecting the English language, the possibility of acquiring academic skills, the chance to attend classes in human rights and public policy, and it gave me and other students the opportunity to improve our knowledge of Romani language, history, and culture," said Olesja Cili, an Albanian graduate of the program. "The scholarship that I received came at a very important time in my life — a time when I did not have any more hope or any possibility for continuing my studies in my country. I am currently attending the public policy master's program at CEU and, due to generous donations, many Roma students have the opportunity to be someone — to follow their dreams and to grow in their careers."