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Dhaka Tribune

What was the reason behind dismissal of Hungarian scholarships?

Since the dismissal of the scholarships, students have been flooding popular social media platforms, such as Facebook with complaints and criticisms.

Update : 31 May 2018, 04:18 PM

One hundred Bangladeshi students lost the opportunity to receive an all expenses paid education at various Hungarian universities, as part of an international scholarship program.   

Among 604 applicants, the students received notifications of acceptance from the universities they had applied this year, under the Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship programme for undergraduate and graduate programs for the session of 2018-19.

These students blamed the bureaucratic red tape between the Education Ministry of Bangladesh and its Hungarian counterpart for depriving the students of this opportunity of a lifetime.

Holding the Bangladesh Education Ministry responsible, one of the students, Fazle Rabbi said: “I am one of the applicants who spent hours preparing for the scholarship. After two written tests and two Skype interviews with a professor, I got accepted for an MSc in Marketing at the Corvinus University of Budapest. 

“I was very optimistic about the scholarship, so I declined another offer from Edith Cowan University, Perth. The education ministry has ruined our dreams.”

Many students such as Rabbi were accepted by different Hungarian universities, and they were waiting for the final step - nomination from the Education Ministry of Bangladesh.

Since the dismissal of the scholarships, students have been flooding popular social media platforms, such as Facebook with complaints and criticisms.   

‘Lack of instruction’

According to sources, the deadline for Stipendium Hungaricum program was 16th February and 604 applicants from Bangladesh had applied under the program.

Section 2.1 of the scholarship program regulations state: “This scholarship is based on effective bilateral educational cooperation agreements between the Ministry of Human Capacities of Hungary and the partner’s ministry responsible for higher education.  

“Applications will be considered eligible if the applicant is nominated by the responsible authorities of the sending partner.”

The regulations further state: “The responsible authority of the sending partner will review and pre-select the applications. A nomination list,  including  a   reserve  list  will   be forwarded to Tempus  Public Foundation by  the sending partner by the end of March 2018. 

“Applications will be considered only if the applicant is nominated. No other applications will be considered.”

As a sending partner, Bangladesh’s Education Ministry was supposed to complete the nomination process by the end of March. The scholarship providing authorities published the nomination list on April 10 without any names of any applicants from Bangladesh.

Kapil Uddin, another applicant who had also received approval for enrollment for an MSc in 

Marketing at Corvinus University of Budapest, said: “According to the section 3.4.2 of the program, all applicants were asked to submit application to the responsible authority of the sending partner.

“But, when we contacted the person responsible for foreign scholarships at the Education Ministry, the official told us the ministry cannot nominate students, because it did not get any instruction in this regard.”

Kapil continued: “The scholarship providing authorities sent me an e-mail saying they regret to inform that applications from Bangladesh will not be considered for further evaluation in this year’s application process, because the Bangladeshi sending partner could not establish a nomination list due to the lack of capacity from their side.

“The Education Ministry of Bangladesh has made me a victim of its inefficiency.”

‘Insufficient information on applicants’

Discussing the issue, an official from the Education Ministry told the Dhaka Tribune: 

“Usually, a commonly used procedure for foreign scholarships is that the applicants submit online applications to both the scholarship providers and to us. 

“The students can be asked to submit only to us, to be later recommended to the scholarship providers, after a selection process from our end.

The official continued: “After selection is done on the basis of scholarship providers’ indicators, we send a list of selected candidates along with our recommendation through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

“We also showcase a scholarship schedule on the website of our ministry, which contains essential link for the applicants to access the application form, terms and conditions.”

Adding that the process for the Hungarian scholarships had not been completed in the abovementioned way this year, the official stated: “On April 19, the Hungarian counterpart just sent us an excel sheet containing the names of more than 600 students, their dates of birth, and names of the departments in universities they applied for.

“They then asked us to nominate one hundred applicants from them.”

Commenting on the matter, Syed Ali Reza, deputy secretary for scholarship at the Education Ministry said: “The main issue was the insufficiency of information about the applicants. Proper assessment requires academic results and supporting papers, while adequate time is also necessary for a thorough screening process. 

“These two crucial factors were unfortunately absent in the case of the current year’s database of scholarship applicants.”

Reza also stated that no reply has been made on the student’s appeals, because the ministry received no directives in this regard as yet. 

The Education Ministry official however pointed out that the deprived students might get another chance to apply for their preferred universities during fall season from the last week of October this year. 

Meanwhile, the Dhaka Tribune has emailed the Hungarian scholarship provider for a comment in this regard on Tuesday, however, no response was received as of filing of the report at 3pm on Thursday.

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