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08 October 2012

Unique new scholarship cements Essex support for Roma rights

Professor Rainer Schulze (left) and Angel Ivanov

A new University of Essex scholarship aimed at protecting and promoting the human rights of the Roma community has accepted its first student.

Angel Ivanov arrived at Essex from Bulgaria after winning the Human Rights Centre 30th Anniversary Scholarship for Roma Students. Thought to be the first of its kind - it is hoped the scholarship will equip Angel, and future recipients, with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide much-needed representation for the Roma people within decision-making bodies.

Essex’s support for the Roma community has been further cemented by the arrival of a second Roma student, Ciprian Ionita, who has only been able to accept a place at the University thanks also to the assistance of the Human Rights Centre.

Professor Rainer Schulze, Director of the Human Rights Centre, explained the importance of the 30th Anniversary Scholarship: “Even though many Roma people no longer travel, accessing mainstream education remains a significant problem, and they still face much prejudice and discrimination across Europe. As a consequence they are under-represented in the spheres of politics, law and policy-making, and they have to rely on others to speak up for them and their rights.

“It is only right that in our 30th anniversary year, the Human Rights Centre, which founded the UK’s first postgraduate course in international human rights law, should break new ground in establishing this unique scholarship which will ultimately help to give the Roma community a voice.”

Angel, who will study for the Centre’s flagship MA in Theory and Practice of Human Rights, said: “In 2009 I interned for the European Roma Rights Centre. That was when I learnt that even though I felt as a Roma I had no rights protection, I do have rights guaranteed by international and national legislation.

“This knowledge empowered me and raised my self-esteem as a Roma and I want to pass it on to my community, and Roma throughout the world. Coming to Essex will prepare me for my future career as a human rights defender and an agent of social change.”
Ciprian Ionita has come to the University from Romania and will also study towards the MA in Theory and Practice of Human Rights.


Notes to editors
1. For further information please contact Professor Rainer Schulze, Director of the Human Rights Centre, telephone: 01206 872885, or e-mail: rainer@essex.ac.uk. Alternatively, and for pictures of Angel Ivanov and Professor Rainer Schulze, contact the Communications Office, telephone: 01206 873529 or e-mail: comms@essex.ac.uk.

2. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex has a worldwide reputation for teaching, practice and research. In 1983 the Centre founded the UK’s first postgraduate qualification in international human rights law and now offers a comprehensive suite of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Almost 2,000 graduates from the Centre are making a difference to societies around the world while staff regularly play an active role in advancing human rights through work with the United Nations and other non-governmental organisations. In 2009 the Centre’s work contributed significantly to the University being awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its pioneering role in advancing the legal and broader practice of international human rights.

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