Rajon has been taking preparations for a year to go abroad for higher studies after completion of his honours degree from a private university of Sylhet. He intended to pursue a master's degree in marketing, hoping to secure a bright career.
Earlier this year, he came to know about a scholarship funded by the Hungarian government called “Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme”.
He primarily got selected as his written and online viva bore positive outcome. It was about to be a major leap for him. He was happy, and so was his family.
“I took the written exam on April 14 and 22 this year. Later, I did a Skype interview with the professors of the university. The interview was satisfactory and they welcomed me to join the university in September,” said Rajon.
However, on April 28, he received a letter from Tempus Public Foundation (TPF), a non-profit organisation that manages the programme -- founded in 1996 by the Hungarian government -- conveying rejection, which was a heavy blow to him.
“I did not expect this rejection. I worked hard for the scholarship,” said Rajon, who posted a status on Facebook articulating his frustration, blaming the education ministry for its negligence in helping Bangladeshi students regarding the scholarship.
Like him, scholarship applications of 100 Bangladeshi students were rejected, as the ministry could not nominate the students for the programme in due time.
The programme is based on bilateral educational cooperation agreements signed between the ministries responsible for education in the sending countries and Hungary or between institutions.
From Bangladesh, the education ministry was the sending partner for the programme and the ministry was supposed to nominate 100 applicants from Bangladesh.
If the universities select the applicants through exams and the sending partner nominates them, only then an applicant becomes eligible for the scholarship, as per the rule of the programme.
As per the guideline of the scholarship, aspirants submit their application documents to TPF. Then, the foundation evaluates the applicants and forwards their documents to the sending partner.
The sending partner then nominates a fixed number of applicants, according to the bilateral agreement, and sends their documents to TPF again. TPF forwards the documents to the host institutions for selection.
Roksana Haque, who completed her honours in leather engineering from Dhaka University in 2013, also applied for the scholarship this year to pursue master's in environmental engineering at a university in Budapest, Hungary.
“After my graduation I took up a job to gather work experience, which is helpful for scholarship. This scholarship was the opportunity to go further in my career. However, now I am very disappointed as the ministry could not nominate us in time,” said Roksana.
Some students, who applied for the scholarship, are connected through a messenger group. Several of them said they had turned down some other scholarships as they were sure about getting the Hungarian scholarship.
RESPONSE FROM EDUCATION MINISTRY
One of the deputy secretaries of Education Ministry, Syed Ali Reza, is the contact person from Bangladesh for the scholarship.
He said the education ministry received an official letter from the scholarship authority through foreign ministry on April 19.
The letter asked to know about the contact person from the education ministry for the scholarship and urged to nominate 100 students, with a few more in reserve, out of 604 applicants from Bangladesh within April 23, said Reza.
“They also gave us a list of the applicants for nomination. However, there was no detail about the applicants such as their academic results, including secondary and higher secondary,” Reza said over the phone to The Daily Star.
The official also said he sent an email to the scholarship authority, providing his name as the contact person from the ministry, and asked for necessary details for the nomination process.
According to him, it was not possible to nominate the students on such a short notice. The scholarship authority directly contacted the education ministry on April 26 and extended the time for one week, he said.
He also said he did not get the details of the applicants by this time. Later in May, the ministry received an official letter of rejection, he added.
Terming all the incidents as “communication gap”, he said that this October students can apply for the scholarship again.
Tempus Public Foundation could not be reached for comment over phone and e-mail.
ABOUT THE SCHOLARSHIP
The Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme was launched in 2013 by the Hungarian government. Currently, 60 sending partners are engaged in the programme throughout five continents and the geographical scope of the programme is spreading each year.
The scholarship is available for bachelor's, master's, one-tier master, doctoral and non degree programmes (preparatory and specialisation courses).
Bangladesh entered the programme for the fist time this year.