South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) working in partnership with UNESCO-TWAS to advance science in developing countries through the NRF-TWAS Doctoral Fellowships.
TWAS-NRF Doctoral Fellowships are tenable at research institutions in South Africa for a maximum period of three years.
They are awarded to scientists from developing countries (other than South Africa) to enable them to pursue PhD research in the natural sciences.
What the fellowship covers
Awarded candidates under TWAS-NRF Doctoral Fellowships will be provided Partial Cost of Study (PCS) funding and this will only cover tuition fees and accommodation costs for a maximum of R101 196 per annum per student.
Additionally, the NRF will cover cheapest return economy flight and the visa and/or study permit costs for TWAS-NRF doctoral awarded candidates.
Who can apply?
Applicants for these fellowships must meet the following criteria:
- be citizens and permanent residents from developing countries on the African continent and elsewhere;
- must not be living, studying or working in South Africa in 2022;
- applicants who were previously employed or studying towards a degree, or undertaking research in South Africa, and have returned to their country of origin, but have been in their country of origin for less than two (2) years, are not eligible to apply;
- must have obtained an MSc degree in a field of natural sciences;
- must have obtained minimum of 65% at the masters’ level in order to apply for doctoral funding;
- must register at a South African public university in 2023, on a full-time basis and may be based at any of the 26 South African public Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Find the updated list at the bottom of this page;
- must be a maximum of 32 years of age by 31 December of the year of application;
- must have proof of evaluation of all foreign qualifications (obtained from non-South African universities) evaluated by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) or proof that the applicant has submitted his/her qualifications to SAQA for evaluation. Failure to submit proof will result in the application being rejected. Further information on the process can be accessed by logging on to www.saqa.org.za;
- must meet visa and immigration laws of the applicant’s home country and South Africa. The applicant must arrange his/her own Visa and/or study permit under the programme for study in South Africa. Neither NRF nor TWAS will be responsible for assisting with visa arrangements. However, the NRF will cover cheapest return economy flight and the visa and/or study permit costs for NRF-TWAS doctoral applicants;
- upon completion of their studies, all NRF-TWAS grantholders must return to their country of origin and must spend at least 3 years and/or equal to the number of years of study supported in their country of origin;
- students who fail to return to their home country will be liable to pay back the amount to the NRF equal to the number of years of study support they have received;
- are only eligible to pursue research under Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) disciplines as only these disiplines will be supported under the NRF-TWAS doctoral funding:
- not take up other assignments during the period of her/his fellowship;
- provide an official proof of study application and/or acceptance letter from a host South African institution, department or laboratory;
- provide a motivation from the prospective doctoral supervisor. It is the responsibility of the applicant to contact the respective institution to apply for acceptance and to secure a supervisor for the doctoral study
- provide English language proficiency certificate (if available at the time of the application). If not available, this will be required before any NRF funds will be released to the student and must meet the following requirements of the English Language Proficiency Academic test: IELTS 6.5 (no band less than 6.0); or TOEFL (paper) 575 (TWE 4.5); or TOEFL iBIT (min. 20); or Cambridge minimum 58. Information on the IELTS tests can be obtained from the British Council in applicant’s home country or accessed at: www.ielts.org. Further information on the TOEFL test can be accessed at: www.toefl.com. Applicants may consult the British Council in their home country for assistance.
- present a detailed research project that must be registered and approved by the host institution and provide a letter of support from the prospective host supervisor;
- provide an official academic record on the university letterhead;
- be financially responsible for any accompanying family members.
*The list of 151 eligible developing countries is available in the Framework document you may download at the bottom of the page.
How to apply & further info
Application for acceptance at South African Institutions
Applicants must contact institutions in South Africa or potential supervisors to obtain a placement into the doctoral research training programme. For details of recognised HEIs and other Public Research Institutions click here.
- Applicants must provide an official letter from their host South African institution, department or laboratory and motivation from the applicant’s host. It is the responsibility of the applicant to contact the respective institution to apply for acceptance. In addition, it is also the responsibility of the applicant to secure a supervisor for the study;
- The research project must be registered and approved by the host institution (a letter of support from the prospective supervisor must be attached to the application.
- Universities will set their own internal cut-off dates for applications and applicants must abide by those dates.
Application for evaluation of foreign qualifications from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
Applicants must have all foreign qualifications (obtained from non-South Africa universities) evaluated by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA). Proof that at least the applicant has submitted his/her qualification for evaluation at SAQA must be submitted with the application, failing which the application will be rejected.
Applicants are advised to start this process early to allow time for processing. Information on the process can be accessed by logging on to www.saqa.org.za. On the SAQA website, navigate to Service – Evaluation of Foreign Qualifications – General Information. Applicants must strictly adhere to all the instructions and provide all applicable documents to avoid delays and rejection of applications. Applicants are advised to courier all application documents to SAQA directly.
Submitting your application
On accessing the link, please follow the detailed guidelines in the step -by-step “Application and Funding Guide for 2023 academic year”. You can see or download the guide at the bottom of this page.
Remember to submit your application upon completion.
The deadline for applications is 08 July 2022. However, universities will set their own internal cut-off dates for applications and applicants must abide by those dates.
No applications will be accepted after the deadline. Therefore, it is recommended to submit your electronic application as early as possible.
- The call for applications where you will find the programme details, eligibility criteria, required documents and certificates as well as the online application form will only be available once the call opens. Applicants must be aware that NRF and TWAS will not accept applications submitted by any other means except via the online application portal.
- Incomplete applications will not be considered as will applications that do not meet the eligibility criteria.
- Contact the university postgraduate or research office for queries related to institutional processes and deadlines.
- Queries concerning the call for applications to the TWAS-NRF Fellowships programmes should be directed to the contacts below:
TWAS Fellowships Office
ICTP campus, Strada Costiera 11, 34151 Trieste, Italy
Tel: +39 040 2240 314, Fax: +39 040 2240 689
E-mail: [email protected]
National Research Foundation, South Africa
Mr Lehlogonolo Phaahla
Professional Officer – HICD. Telephone: 012 481 4315.
Email Address: [email protected]
For technical online enquiries, please contact the NRF Support Desk during office hours from 08:00 to 16:30 Mondays to Fridays (excluding public holidays). Telephone: +27 12 481 4202; E-mail: [email protected]
Eligible nationalities (by Individual countries):
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