VELUX Foundations Award €725,000 Grant to CEU Roma Graduate Preparation Program

September 28, 2012

The VELUX Foundations have awarded Central European University's Roma Graduate Preparation Program a three-year grant of approximately €725,000 (nearly 5.5 million Danish kroner) to increase opportunities for post-graduate study for talented members of Europe's largest and most marginalized minority, the Roma. The only one of its kind in the world, the intensive nine-month program prepares Roma students for international English-language postgraduate studies in social sciences through open competition at top universities in Europe and North America.

The Roma Graduate Preparation Program is part of CEU's Roma Access Programs (RAP). During each RAP cycle, 10-20 participants receive a full scholarship including room and board. The students 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 guidance on the scholarship application process; and actively participate in public lectures, academic conferences, and seminars. RAP's long-term goal is to prepare these young, outstanding scholars to conduct local and international academic and advocacy work and to serve as role models and leaders for the Roma community overall.

Throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the Roma minority continues to suffer widespread and pervasive discrimination, marginalization, and injustice. Due to these barriers, few Roma manage to graduate from primary and secondary school and the presence of Roma in higher education is less than 1 percent.

This grant will ensure that up to 60 participants complete the RAP cycle over the next three academic years. Also, the program administrators hope to increase the percentage of students who meet the minimum TOEFL (English-language proficiency) requirements into CEU MA programs; to maintain entrance into international postgraduate educational programs by at least half of the alumni; to build a critical mass of well-trained, qualified Roma professionals who will become the future elite and role models for their community; and to secure fellowship opportunities for RAP alumni. In total, RAP has graduated 98 students with 45 of them continuing on to pursue master's or doctoral degrees, including a Fulbright and an Erasmus Mundus scholar. Hungary's first Roma police spokesperson is also a RAP graduate.

“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 RAP. “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.”

Over the life of the program, RAP has been sponsored by numerous foundations and individuals including the Ford Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung Foundation. Ongoing funding is provided by CEU, the Roma Education Fund, and the Open Society Roma Initiatives. VELUX Foundations are nonprofit entities created by Villum Kann Rasmussen, the founder of VELUX window company and other companies owned by VKR Holding, whose mission is to bring daylight, fresh air, and a better environment into people's everyday lives.

For further information about the program visit http://rap.ceu.hu.