Regarding the current situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, for your kind reference, please find below the answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning the current stage of and next steps in the Stipendium Hungaricum (SH) application process and the situation of SH scholarship holders currently staying in Hungary.
1. Is it the correct interpretation of the governmental decision that SH students may not leave Hungary?
It has been advised to all SH scholarship holders to remain at their place of residence during the coronavirus pandemic. The rationale behind the advice is that, based on our current knowledge of the disease, the spread of the epidemic can best be reduced/slowed down by social distancing and restriction on travel, especially long distance and international mobility. The travelling of students to their home countries (regardless of the distance) typically involves travelling by public transport, therefore increasing the risk of spreading the virus, and situations where close contact with other people is unavoidable. Furthermore, with the current ban on international travel (as of 16 March 2020, the borders of Hungary were closed to incoming foreign citizens until further notice), students travelling home risk being unable to return to Hungary and continuing their studies within the framework of the scholarship programme. However, it is important to stress that, whilst TPF advises against the international travel of the scholarship holders, it is only a recommendation and travelling home will in no way result in any direct sanctions against students deciding to return to their home country.
2. If an SH student gets sick, is the relevant embassy notified? If so, in what form?
According to the relevant legislation, health-related data information belong to the category of ‘sensitive’ personal data and, as such, SH scholarship holders are not obliged to inform the sending partner, their host institution or TPF about their health issues. However, TPF is ready to share such information if received from a student, provided that the student specifically requests so, or expresses their consent to forwarding the sensitive data to the relevant and eligible authorities (i.e., sending partners, responsible ministries).
3. If the situation does not normalise until then, what happens to students who were to graduate this June?
As the organization of the study programmes falls under the authority of the higher education institution concerned, all matters related to the timing of the exams and graduation are to be discussed with the host universities. In general, according to the operational regulations of the programme, SH students may request the extension of their scholarship holder status. This applies to all, except for PhD students and those who have already extended their studies; in their case, TPF is open to participate in any kind of discussion and is willing to compile suggestions about the possible solution for the matter.
4. Do we have any plans regarding the autumn registration of the students who will gain admission to the programme in the current admission cycle? Will the programme continue in an unchanged framework in the upcoming academic year?
Based on the information received from the universities, entrance exams will be held without any disruptions, electronically, as they would be in normal circumstances. We have informed the applicants about the nomination results and the nominees will be contacted shortly by their host institutions regarding the details of the entrance examination. The decision on the scholarships awarded for the next academic year is expected to be made in accordance with the originally planned timeline. However, due to the current international situation, there might be some changes in the visa processes, travel and enrolment of the new scholarship holders, always in line with the prevailing legal guidelines at domestic and international level.
5. What financial contribution will the students who remain in Hungary receive?
In case they stay in Hungary, SH scholarship holders will continue to receive the benefits provided by the programme: contribution to their housing and living expenses, health insurance, and the additional health services.
6.What financial contributions will those who leave Hungary receive?
If the scholarship holders leave the territory of Hungary, they can do so upon informing their host institution. If they are absent for more than 30 days, they will lose their right to their living and housing allowance until their return, as these allowances are intended to contribute to their costs of living in Hungary. They do not lose their scholarship status. In addition to the above, scholarship holders have the option to suspend their studies (passive semester), through the procedure set out under Section 45 (2) of the Act on National Higher Education 204/2011. During the passive semester, scholarship holders are not entitled to the financial contributions provided by the programme.
7. Are the conditions for distance learning in place?
Based on the information received from the universities, SH scholarship holders are provided with the opportunities and measures of distance/e-learning with the same conditions as Hungarian students, thus the continuity of the studies of scholarship holders are guaranteed during the spring semester of the 2019/2020 academic year, regardless of their current place of stay. However, as the implementation of online/distance study programmes is the responsibility of the host institution, further details can be provided by them.
8. Can a country evacuate its students?
As the travel restrictions set out by the Government of Hungary deal with the issue of incoming mobility, SH scholarship holders are entitled to leave the country, based on their own decision and after informing their host institution. However, it is important to stress that, at the moment, the possibility of international travel from Hungary is very limited: with the increased number of countries closing their borders, several outgoing flights have been cancelled and, as for other means of transport, the majority of Hungary’s neighbouring countries are also closed to foreign citizens. Nevertheless, if the sending partner or the official foreign representative body is still willing to organize the return of SH scholarship holders to their home country, TPF will provide the eligible organization(s) with the available contact details of the respective students to enable direct contact with them.
9. Is dormitory placement still available for SH students?
Except for one host institution (National University of Public Service), all international students are entitled to remain on the premises of their student residence (dormitory, student hotel). The National University of Public Service is currently working on finding accommodation for its students.
10. Is it true that some institutions relocate students form one student residence to another? If so, what is the reason for this?
Based on our current information from the universities, in case the Operational Group of Hungary requires the host institution to do so, students might be asked to re-locate their residence within the premises of their student accommodation (e.g., moving to another room, floor or building). This, however does not affect the students’ rights, the host institution still provides them with accommodation. As the details of such re-location requests might vary by institutions, further details can be provided by them.