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International Mobility of Roma Students in Europe: the way forward
Start date: Aug 31, 2007,

Roma Education Funds Scholarship Program for tertiary education (REF SP) provides yearly ca. 1,450 scholarships to Roma students from 16 countries. However, this number does not fully meet the demand for scholarship support; it results rather from REFs budgetary limitation. In fact, every year several hundred students do not receive scholarships although their scores obtained in the scholarship competition are competitive enough to qualify for support.REFs mission is to close the gap in educational outcomes between Roma and non-Roma. Since the gap is substantial, closing it requires long term concerted efforts, matched by political commitment and with sufficient financial resources. In short, closing the gap means substantial growth in numbers, and the need to reach a critical mass of young Roma accessing and graduating from higher education.Roma Education Fund (REF) has implemented the Scholarship Program since 2007, and contributes to the Pillar - Building prosperity in the Danube Region, and contributes to three main issues within this pillar:Education and skillsThe REF Scholarship Program is particularly relevant for the Danube Region strategys investment in education and skills, so that the Region can sustainably progress and grow, prioritizing knowledge and inclusion. Over the last decade, REF has contributed substantially to increasing the number of Roma university graduates.Marginalized communitiesThat the REF Scholarship Program benefits young Roma students pursuing higher learning is an added-value as the priority area for building prosperity targets marginalized communities; The Roma population in Europe is widely acknowledged as being considerably affected by social and economic exclusion. Furthermore, many of the countries part of the Danube strategy have large Roma communities.Employment market and mobilityRoma represent a large European population (ca. 12 million), attached to their country of origin through citizenship, but also with a strong collective European Roma consciousness. From this standpoint, young Roma are more open to the prospect of international mobility, since in most of the European countries they can identify and relate with those countries Roma populations. Many of the young Roma do emigrate to EU countries in search of work and better life prospects.The Scholarship Program is implemented as a process which is set to enter a new phase, i.e. the international mobility of Roma students. Academically talented Roma students from the Danube region will participate in Roma-focused scholarship schemes offered by German or Austrian universities.ObjectivePromote young Romas pursuit of higher education internationally -through joint initiatives between REF and selected universities in Germany and Austria - by establishing Roma-focused scholarship schemes within the targeted universities, supported financially through government funding.The REF SP is currently implemented in 11 of the 14 Danube strategy countries: Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Montenegro, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine. The next phase of the process envisions REF SP beneficiaries attending universities in two of the remaining three countries: Germany and Austria. Expected Results: • The projects will strengthen the belief and trust of the Roma community, and of the young Roma in particular, that accessing and graduating from higher education, both nationally and internationally, it is within their reach and that such achievement lays out a clear path for solid career prospects, as mainstream professionals back home, or internationally; furthermore, their success will constitute a powerful example and model for their generation and the younger one as well.• Roma graduates of higher education will directly as well as indirectly contribute to dismantling the long-standing societal prejudice and stereotypes, and thus counterbalance the widespread biased portrayal of Roma in the media and the misrepresentation of Roma by the far-right extremist politicians.

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