Luys Foundation Changes Rules to Reach More Scholars

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By Lilit Petrosyan

YEREVAN — Luys Foundation started operating in 2009 when there were only a few organizations working towards knowledge and educational excellence in Armenia. It was also a period when the country was transitioning from an industrial economy into a knowledge-based economy, and Luys Foundation was among the first to start building the talent and the workforce that Armenia was going to need very soon.

“If nowadays the fuel of the economy is knowledge and not petrol, it does not matter how big or how small the country is. It is more important what kind of creative force it has and how apt it is to embrace the knowledge economy,” says Jacqueline Karaaslanian, the executive director of Luys Foundation.

“When Luys was created, one of the goals of the founders was to make our youth dream big peacefully, pushing them to believe that the world is theirs, and that they can dream as high as they want, with no hindrance,” said Karaaslanian. And the message is still there; throughout the eight years of its operation, the vision of Luys remains making Armenia competitive with developed countries in the field of knowledge economy.

When Luys started operating, Armenia was just coming out of a series of crises, and the youth in Armenia was in a reactive mode to external, overwhelming events. They didn’t have the luxury to be young, to be ambitious and to think about the future. Luys Foundation motivated the youth to aim high. Today there are 32 companies that Luys scholars have created, many of them through the Luys Start Armenia Fund.

Furthermore, a number of tax reforms by the government and simplification of regulations for new business owners has made Armenia a fertile environment for investments.

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Luys Foundation, as one of the main producers of the smart pool of talents, continuously studies the advancement and changes in both the local and global markets to update and align its regulations accordingly in order to support the knowledge-based economy in Armenia. Today the Education Council of Luys Foundation responds to the growing demand for a skilled workforce in Armenia by recommending a new set of regulations for obtaining Luys Scholarships.

The new regulations for Luys Scholarships are driven from the statistical data of what talent Luys has been producing and what impact that talent has had on boosting the local economy.

According to the new regulations, scholarship applicants from the Republic of Armenia will get 50-percent coverage for all the expenses provided that they return and work in Armenia for three years after completion of their studies abroad.

Diasporan Armenians will receive a 25-percent support for all the expenses with the only condition of being in Armenia every summer during their education and working here within the annual “Develop Armenia Together” project. However, if diasporan Armenians choose to share the same obligations as Luys students from the Armenia, they will also get 50 percent of their tuitions covered.

“We understand that you cannot demand that diasporan students to come and settle in Armenia when the rest of their family lives in another part of the world. However, we give everyone the chance of benefiting from the same conditions provided that they take on the same amount of responsibilities,” Karaaslanian said.

Moreover, there is an extra 25-percent coverage of expenses if the Luys scholar chooses to become a civil servant in one of the ministries of the government. “In the past, Luys Foundation didn’t have any obligation for the students to come back and work in Armenia for 2-3 years upon completion of their studies because Armenia’s job market and the business environment were not ready to welcome their new knowledge. This is no longer the reality,” explained Karaaslanian.

Additionally, the number of spots allocated for the students from Armenia and the diasporan has undergone some changes, as well. Now, out of 10 scholarships that Luys Foundation gives for each of the 10 universities, seven spots will be covered by students from Armenia and three spots will be allocated to Diasporan Armenians.

Karaaslanian hopes that these new regulations would be perceived as strategic alignment among different groups of Armenians. “At Luys, we love and cherish the plurality of cultures. What is overwhelmingly present within Luys scholars is the sense of belonging to one Armenian group where all share the same values and dream for a better future. And the better future is thinking of Armenia not isolated but in total synchronicity with the world. I hope that by reading our new regulations, which were created to meet the needs of the country, the perspective students will see that everybody can have the same benefits if they take the same load of responsibility.”

Researched and Developed in Armenia

Luys Foundation has an alumnus working in every major organization in Armenia, such as Ayb, Tumo, IDeA Foundation, FAST Foundation and ONE Armenia.

The Luys alumni living abroad are also active and continually remains connected to the homeland with a lot of them creating their own companies in Armenia and still considering the world, and not just Armenia, to be their market.

“The reason I love Luys so much is that we look at the Armenian nation as a whole, and not just the Republic of Armenia. And, also, it is the first time there is a program that was created in Armenia that serves the diaspora as well. Traditionally it has been vice-versa,” said Karaaslanian.

“While we say made in China or serviced in India, we can start saying researched and developed in Armenia. Some of the small companies in biotech are already opening this path. We could have everything researched further and developed here in Armenia and then distributed to the world, fabricated elsewhere and serviced somewhere else. We have the resources to do the thinking and the development here where it needs a small group of people who are highly talented and educated,” she said.

 

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