The Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary helps young people who live in difficult circumstances to obtain a diploma. The aim is that these young people help their home country’s Christian community with the knowledge they’ve gained in Hungary.
Interviewer: Why did you found a scholarship program for foreign Christian students?
Gyula Sümeghy: This is a question of morals and principles for the Károli University to support the young Christian people living in difficult circumstances around the world, who sometimes face actual persecution, even if for now it is only in a symbolic extent. Our maintainer’s, the Reformed Church in Hungary’s international priority also to embrace the persecuted Christian communities - primarily in the Middle East. Those can participate in the scholarship program, who are active in their home country’s Christian communities, and have a certification about it. Our aim with the scholarship program is that the young people obtaining the diploma can help back in their home country the Christian communities there, with the knowledge they’ve gained in Hungary.
How did you choose the now enrolled students?
We enrolled four young people - three students from Pakistan and one from Kenya who met the requirements of a similar scholarship program in Hungary that they were rejected from due to a lack of resources.
What does the scholarship cover: free tuition, or is it more than that?
The package allows the students to study in our university free from tuition fees for three years, which is the amount of time our BA in Psychology takes to finish. They get free accommodation in one of our dormitories, we support their living costs and take care of their health insurance during the time of their stay. We also help their homeward journey once a year so that they can visit their families. The Károli Christian Scholarship is a comprehensive support so that the scholarship holder students can get their desired diploma.
How do you help the integration of the scholarship holders?
Teachers and education organizer colleagues pay attention to them, and we also assign each of the students a volunteering Hungarian partner student, who makes the adjustment to our country and to the university life easier. They help to open a bank account, register for courses, get familiar with the public transportation in Budapest, ect. We would like to help the scholarship holders find a congregation in Budapest, but we are still assessing their needs. Although every student is a Christian, not all of them are Protestant, Reformed.
Would you like to extend the scholarship program in the future?
Our commitment is unique, as in Hungary, we are the only university that has started such a scholarship program with its own initiative and resources. By all means we would like to make it sustainable and extend it within realistic frames. From now on, every year, we will enroll five additional students per year. We are thinking of the possibility of further extension, considering that which external subsidies could we bring in to the initiative.
Strategic Aims of the University
The strategic aim of the university is the internationalization, the extension of the study programs in foreign languages and also to increase the number of foreign students studying there. Now there are eight study programs providing degrees in foreign languages in the Károli University. Besides Psychology there are BA and MA in English Studies, MA in German Language, Literature and Culture, MA and PhD in Theology and LL.M. in European and International Business Law in English. Together with the Christian scholarship holders twenty-one students are studying currently in these programmes, besides there are some hundred and thirty exchange students in the Károli - they are mainly Europeans, but there are also from Japan, South Korea, and the United States among them.
Interview by Márk Hegedűs
Translated by Tímes Tőke
Edited by Avery Gill
Photos by Károli University