Information for Parents of Applicants from Macedonia

FULL SCHOLARSHIPS TO SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 2020

Information for Parents of Applicants from Macedonia

Students are asked to translate this paper for their parents if necessary in order to ensure that it is fully understood.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the arrangements for the full scholarships offered in the United Kingdom through HMC Projects in Central and Eastern Europe.

You will find further details of the nature and work of HMC Projects at www.hmc.org.uk/projects .

HMC (Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) is an association of the Headteachers of many of the leading independent schools in the United Kingdom. HMC Projects is a registered charity and is a company with limited liability. Its specific purpose, since its inception twenty-seven years ago in 1992, has been to enable young students from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe to study in the UK and, in doing so, to make contacts and friendships with British young people, to gain a better understanding of what the United Kingdom stands for, to perfect their mastery of the English language and to strengthen links between their countries and the UK. In consequence, some two thousand students have received scholarships to spend up to two years in British schools. Quite apart from the benefit to the students, the British schools have also greatly enjoyed their presence and have gained much. The scholarship programmes are run by HMC Projects but students are placed not only in schools belonging to HMC but also in some other independent schools and some very good government boarding schools.

The British schools are of various types. Some are schools mainly for boarding pupils (boys and girls who live at the school during the school terms). Other schools have both boarding pupils and day pupils. Scholarship students from Central and Eastern Europe take up boarding places in their schools. The schools are located throughout the United Kingdom. Many of the schools are coeducational but some take only girls and others take only boys.

Scholarships for students in Macedonia are arranged through cooperation between three parties:

• HMC Projects

• Mrs Violeta Toleva, Chemistry teacher at Orce Nikolov Grammar School

• London Bridge as a co-partner

Once the student has arrived at the school, formal responsibility for each student transfers to the school.

Even so, our Student Coordinator, Mrs Wendy McLachlan, will play a role in monitoring the continuing welfare of students. She is able to offer support and advice as needed. On the recommendation of the Student Coordinator financial help may be given to students confronted with exceptional expenditure (for instance cultural expeditions, field trips, etc.).

• London Bridge Montenegro

Mrs Violeta Toleva & London Bridge administer the programme in Macedonia, organise student interviews and provide support and advice for the scholars before their departure to the UK.

• The School:

Your son or daughter will become a full member of the school chosen by HMC Projects and you will be asked to sign the home-school agreement signed by all parents. The School provides a full scholarship, covering all costs of tuition, food and accommodation, and accepts responsibility for the students at all times when the school is in session.

We match our scholars with schools best suited to their individual talents, but I should emphasise that all the schools within the scheme have been selected because we see them as entirely suitable and because we know that they will offer a very valuable experience to the students who are their guests. Once the school has accepted the student assigned to it, a change cannot be made.

A different way of life

Students need to be ready to adapt to the boarding way of life and to desire positively to support the school’s philosophy and rules. Inevitably our scholars do find that some features of British schools are very different from their schools at home – for example:

1. Students live in boarding houses. Normally about thirty to forty students live in one house, supervised by two or more members of staff. The houses are usually for boys only or for girls only. For young people who have always lived at home it takes some time to become accustomed to this situation. Of course our scholars miss their homes but they quickly make friends and enjoy being members of their house and school communities.

2. Most students will share a room with another student, where they sleep, study and keep their personal belongings, clothes, books and other items. Most schools will expect their boarders to undertake communal responsibilities within their houses.

3. All boarding schools have rules designed to protect the needs and interests of each one of their members. For example one rule will be that students will be expected to be in their own rooms by a particular time at night and will be required to be quiet so that others may sleep. Another rule will be that students are not allowed to smoke or consume alcohol. Students in boarding schools are not normally permitted to seek or obtain paid employment outside school. At home rules of this sort are probably unnecessary. Our experience is that these rules do not usually create difficulties for students, but we must emphasise that students need to be willing to accept them – otherwise they should decline the scholarship.

4. In most schools (but not all) students wear a uniform during teaching hours and for special occasions. Schools will send full information about this to those who are selected for scholarships and there is no need for parents to spend much money on these items before the students leave for the UK.

5. An important difference is that students in Britain study far fewer academic subjects. This applies to all the present examination systems in the UK – A Levels, the IB (International Baccalaureate), Scottish Highers and Advanced Higher and the Cambridge Pre-University Examination. Students usually take three or possibly four main subjects (from 15-20 different possibilities), plus other options and/or a general studies course.

In other words, HMC Projects scholars will study a smaller number of subjects in greater depth than they would have done at home. The consequence is that they will think more deeply about the subject, rather than just study to absorb information. Of fundamental importance is the fact that they will be speaking, listening, reading and writing in English all the time, so that their command of English will develop enormously during their time in the UK. When they are selected and assigned to their schools, they will become actively involved in the selection of their course of studies, with full information supplied by their school.

6. Another important difference is that, whereas many European schools aim to provide only teaching in the academic subjects, British boarding schools offer also a wide range of other activities which give opportunity for students to develop sporting or other talents. All schools offer excellent opportunities for music with orchestras and choirs; they offer drama and debating. Facilities for sport are excellent. Scholars can be assured that they will be able to enjoy themselves besides working hard. It is indeed important that they do make time for these other activities since these contribute to the lasting friendships which are for many one of the most important features of being in the UK.

7. UK boarding schools have an international outlook and will probably have a number of students from other countries – from Europe, Africa, Asia, Hong Kong and China…along with their British students. Students need to be sensitive to cultural differences as well as aware that attitudes towards social matters such as racism or gender equality may well be different to those at home.

8. There are a few exceptions, but almost all UK boarding schools have a religious heritage and require their students from time to time to attend what may be called “chapel” or “prayers” or a “religious-style assembly”. This is actually also the law of the land and applies to all British schools. Boarding schools see this as an important and intrinsic part of communal life and of the all-round education they offer as well as a valuable cultural experience. The Church of England is as broad-minded a church as any in the world and schools will go out of their way to ensure that services or “prayers” are inclusive. Those leading such occasions know that in a typical British boarding school there will be students from many cultures and of many faiths as well as of none; they shape what they offer accordingly. Students are expected to attend (not least out of courtesy); schools do not normally allow students to opt out of such events. If you or your son or daughter cannot accept this requirement, then you should not proceed with this application.

9. The Scholarship is intended to be for two years. In principle scholarships will generally be for two years, renewable for the second year on the same or similar terms. It should be noted that schools do, however, reserve the right to withdraw a scholarship from any scholar, if they fail to perform to the high standards expected, both academically and socially. The two-year programme allows scholars to complete their education in the UK and to apply for a wide variety of universities across Europe. Schools will expect scholars to demonstrate high academic performance and make a valuable contribution to school life. There is no absolute requirement for scholars to stay on for a second year, but schools will be expecting this.

Many former scholars have then gone on to university in the UK. However the scholarship does not carry with it the opportunity to study at a British university. Applicants should find out from local universities and current schools which examinations or courses of study (if any) will be necessary if scholars are to resume studies at home without disadvantage when they return. Studying at university in the UK is very expensive in terms of both tuition and living costs.

Eligibility

1. To be eligible for the HMC Projects Scholarship Programme a student should be sixteen years old and not older than seventeen years and six months on 1st September 2020, i.e. a student’s date of birth must be between 1st February 2003 and 1st September 2004.

2. An applicant and his/her parents should complete all parts of the application form.

3. HMC Projects Full Scholarships are intended to benefit those whose parents cannot afford to pay full United Kingdom boarding school fees. Schools participating in the Scheme consider this to be part of how they offer public benefit. HMC Projects has therefore decided that the combined parental income of applicants must not exceed £30,000 as assessed during 2020.

The parents of applicants for a full scholarship must sign a declaration that their combined net annual income during 2019 will not have exceeded the equivalent of £30,000.

Please note that net income means total disposable income after tax has been paid.

Applicants, whose combined parental income exceeds £30,000 (and falls between £30,000 and £80,000) during 2019 and so who are not eligible for full scholarships, are welcome to apply for a Reduced Fee Scholarship. If family income exceeds £80,000 then applicants are ineligible for both programmes.

4. The parents of applicants invited to interview must also complete a separate Parental Income and Assets Declaration form.

5. A student may not apply for a HMC Projects scholarship if he or she is currently attending another school in the UK or has already been accepted to do so for September 2020.

After Selection

a) Full Scholarship Programme:

We shall aim to inform successful candidates that we intend to offer them a scholarship by the end of February 2020 or the beginning of March 2020.

Two more things have to happen:

1. Students must accept the offer; and

2. We have to wait until the school has agreed to accept our nominated scholar.

Until both have happened we cannot guarantee that a scholar offered participation in the programme will be placed.

Scholars will therefore normally not learn which school they will attend before April 2020, since we have to await the outcomes of all the interviews before we select the right school for each of the selected scholars and also obtain the agreement of the schools to accept our nomination. In April we shall write with the details of the school and with further procedural information. The school will also get in touch at this time and will normally send formal documents for signature along with further information.

b) Reduced Fee Programme:

Each year we have a number of students recommended by our interviewers for consideration for a reduced fee scholarship. These will be students who on merit are judged to be of scholarship standard, but who are nonetheless ineligible for a full scholarship because their parents’ income exceeds £30,000 during 2019. They and any full scholarship reserve candidates are offered the opportunity to apply for a reduced fee scholarship. There is a degree of choice of school for these students and the schools will choose their preferred applicants from those who apply. Reduced fee scholars pay partial fees to the school: typically, 20-25% of full fees (in 2019 between £5000 and £10,000). They do not pay an administrative fee and so receive no bursary or any other benefits from HMC Projects. We cannot guarantee that a recommended reduced fee applicant will be offered a place, but we expect that most will.

In 2019 there were 96 new HMC Projects scholars. 55 students from 13 countries won full scholarships and a further 41 students won reduced fee scholarships in 2019.

A Note on Selection

We receive a very large number of applications from students in 13 countries. There will therefore be very many high achieving students who are not selected. Our decisions should be viewed as final and we regret that we are not able to enter in to any discussion or correspondence subsequently with the parents or guardians of applicants who are not successful.

We look very carefully at a student’s application form. The form should therefore be completed carefully and fully. We ask all the questions for very good reasons! What a student writes in his/her essay is very important. We seek confidential written references from an applicant’s teachers And then we meet applicants in groups of three. At the interview we want to learn more about them as individuals but also see how they interact with other students.

Our interviewers are all highly experienced. They are either serving or retired heads or senior teachers who work or have worked in UK boarding schools. At the interview we get students to talk about themselves, talk with others and discuss topics or play intellectual games. We find that students enjoy the experience – at least afterwards! – and often we are told that they have never done anything like this before…

We have no quotas. We are meeting students both within your own country and then from 12 other countries across Europe from all sorts of backgrounds and schools. Nor do we adopt any sort of points-based system (say for Olympiad performance, or school grades or performance at basketball or on the violin etc etc…. ).

We use our judgment and do our best to view all applications in the round. We select students who, in addition to being very good indeed in their academic studies, are sociable, adaptable, interesting and interested in other people and in ideas; they need to have charm and, above all, be ready to give of themselves to their new communities. We try to make judgments about both what an applicant will gain from this potentially life-changing experience of coming to study in the UK as well as what a student will bring and contribute intellectually, socially and personally to the school that is hosting him/her.

Travelling to the UK and to the new School

Once a student has been accepted by a school there will be communication between the school and parents. You will probably be asked to compete the school’s standard entry papers. The school will publish its term dates well in advance and tell you when your son or daughter should arrive for the start of term and what the entry and induction arrangements are.

UK boarding schools are well experienced in admitting international students and they will have excellent welcome and induction procedures. You will receive advice about travel and representatives from HMC Projects may also be able to offer help at some UK airports.

The Shape of the School Year

The school year in Britain is divided into three terms, with holidays at Christmas, Easter and in the summer. At the end of each term the school will ensure that the student knows the arrangements for travelling home and for returning to the UK after the holiday. Parents or guardians have full responsibility for our scholars during school holidays.

In addition, most schools close for a half-term break in the middle of the term. In the first (autumn) term this will probably be a two week break (taking in three weekends in late October/early November) and most HMC projects scholars fly home – with careful planning costs can be kept down – but HMC Projects can assist with a limited number of homestays. There will also probably be a supervised stay offered in a Youth Hostel during the Spring Term Half Term.

Medical

HMC Projects asks parents of applicants to complete and sign the Health Declaration, which forms part of the application form.

Schools will ask parents to provide information relating to any previous or current medical condition, physical or psychological, from which their child suffers. Schools will hope to be able to welcome students with any controllable condition but must be informed of it beforehand. Schools have the right not to accept students into a residential community if the medical condition could cause extreme difficulties and had not been declared in advance. Parents should not worry about this but schools may wish to seek further information in some cases so that they can be sure that they can give the necessary medical support to students.

Schools will expect all new students to be adequately and currently protected by immunisation against MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella), Polio and Tetanus.

Financial

Full Scholarships. For holders of non-EEA passports we charge an administrative fee of £700, payable to HMC Projects by parents of HMC Projects scholars.

The latest date for payment is 1st July 2020. Thereafter, this fee is not refundable.

To this must be added the high costs of a tier 4 visa and UK health insurance. (For holders of EEA passports, who require neither a visa nor health insurance, we charge £1500.)

We must emphasise that the cost of living in Britain is much higher than at home.

(Reduced Fee Scholarships. There is no administrative fee payable by parents.)

The full scholarship awarded by the school to your son/daughter will cover all tuition fees and residential boarding fees including meals and laundry during term time. However, there are likely to be some extras that will be added to a termly account presented to parents by the school at the end of each term, to be paid before the start of the following term. This might include such things as weekend trips away from the school site, certain stationery requirements and specialist activities which are not part of the school’s core curriculum. It is impossible to give a precise figure for such items, as much will depend upon the individual school and the choices of your son/daughter. On average parents might expect this termly account to be in the region of £50-£100 per term. Students will receive advice and guidance both from their school and from HMC Projects as to how they can keep such costs to an absolute minimum.

At the end of each term all students are expected to return home. This will mean that parents will need to budget for return flights per year. Schools also have a half term holiday in each of the three terms when the school will close for at least a week – normally a fortnight in the autumn term. The precise dates for the main and half term holidays vary from school to school but are generally around the same time. In addition some schools have what are called weekend leave or exeat weekends.

All HMCP students are expected to travel home during the main school holidays. We also encourage HMCP students to return home during the half term holiday – particularly during the autumn term as this holiday in the second half of October/early November is usually two weeks long. But this is not always possible and there will be a very limited number of supervised home stay places in the UK. Furthermore, if you have friends/relatives in the UK, it is fine for your son/daughter to stay with them over the half term holiday.

Travel costs to and from school to the nearest airport will also need to be taken onto account. All travel costs can be kept to a minimum by booking tickets well in advance. Internal travel in the UK is cheaper with the purchase of a Young Person’s Rail or Coach Card. Your son/daughter can easily research this. The school will also be able to offer advice.

To help with these expenses and particularly to assist your son/daughter when they first arrive at the school, HMC Projects provides each student with a £300 Bursary Fund which is paid into an account at the school to be used as necessary and appropriate by each student. Of course this will not cover the whole year and parents should be prepared for the additional expenses during the course of the year as indicated above.

Your and your son’s/daughter’s data and how we use it.

The information that you and your son/daughter include in his/her application for a scholarship is essential to us and we undertake to handle it responsibly and keep it secure. It is therefore important for you to know how we use it and who sees it.

Only if your son/daughter is called to interview will our national coordinator in your country send us a copy of his/her completed application form as a digital file in advance of the interviews. This is used by our interviewers to learn about your son/daughter in preparation for the interviews. A copy is kept by the Administrator of HMC Projects. If your son/daughter is selected for a scholarship then his/her digital application form is retained by the Administrator of HMC Projects for the duration of the scholarship: normally two years. Any printed documents which are passed to the interviewers at the time of the interviews will be passed on to the school to which your son/daughter will be going. The confidential parental income information, however, is not passed on to the school but is retained by the Administrator of HMC Projects in case a special request should be made by your son/daughter for exceptional additional financial assistance.

If your son/daughter is unsuccessful in being awarded a full scholarship but is invited to apply for a reduced fee scholarship then his/her digital application form may be passed on to the schools he/she is applying to in order to help them choose their preferred candidate and make an offer of a reduced fee scholarship. The parental income information is not disclosed to any school. If your son/daughter is successful and is offered a reduced fee scholarship and he/she accepts it, then the digital application form is retained by the Administrator of HMC Projects for the period of the scholarship and any printed documents are sent on to the school with the exception of the confidential income declaration. If your son/daughter is not successful or declines the offer to apply for a reduced fee scholarship then his/her digital and printed application forms are kept only until the start of the scholarship period, normally September 1st after which they are deleted or destroyed.

At the end of the scholarship period the Administrator of HMC Projects will retain your son’s/daughter’s contact details in an alumni database and we may contact him/her occasionally to keep in touch.

It is important that you understand how HMC Projects uses your and your son’s/daughter’s information as described above and that you and your son/daughter agree to this. At all times HMC Projects undertakes to hold all the data on its scholarship applicants, scholars and alumni securely.

You will see that we ask you to sign (on your son/s/daughter’s application form) that you have read and agree to what we have set out above about the use of your and your son’s/daughter’s data.

A Commitment for scholars and parents alike

In our ‘General Information for Applicants’ document we emphasise that acceptance of the HMC Projects scholarship represents a commitment, not least because it is a scholarship which would otherwise have been won by another very deserving candidate. It also represents a very substantial amount of money given that full boarding school fees at an United Kingdom independent boarding school now cost between £35,000 and £40,000 p.a.

It follows that parents must fully support their child’s application. Being separated for a large part of the year will, in most cases, be a new experience for parents and children alike. Every HMC Projects scholar is entitled to come to the UK confident that he or she is there with the full support of his or her parents.

For the vast majority of our students, the HMC Projects scholarship has been a wonderfully positive, fulfilling and enjoyable experience. This is because they have met the opportunities and the challenges with enthusiasm and commitment.

Summary of Responsibilities (Full Scholarship Programme)

• Mrs Violeta Toleva & London Bridge

Administer the scholarship programme in Macedonia

Provide support and advice before departure.

Are responsible for communicating financial arrangements to parents.

• The School

Provides a full scholarship for tuition, food and accommodation.

Accepts responsibility for the student when the school is in session.

Has full authority in regard to the student when the school is in session and keeps in contact with the student’s parents.

• HMC Projects

Coordinates the programme in the UK.

Selects and places Scholars in appropriate schools.

Works closely with London Bridge Montenegro.

Provides a Bursary of £300 to each HMC Projects Full Scholar.

Can provide some help in making half-term arrangements.

Provides financial assistance, when necessary, for attendance of field trips, cultural visits, etc.

• Parents

  • Sign an agreement with the School accepting the normal conditions of the School.
  • Declare that their combined net annual income during 2019 will not exceed £30,000.
  • Complete a separate financial declaration form if their son/daughter is invited for interview.
  • Parents are responsible for travel costs.
  • Parents will pay the termly ‘Extras’ bill charged by the School and meet such
  • personal costs of their son/daughter as are not funded by HMC Projects.
  • Parents pay a fee of £700 to HMC Projects (or £1500 if the student holds a EEA passport). This payment is due by 1st July 2020 at the latest. Thereafter the fee is not refundable.

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