The NRF Bursary 2025

15:29 Monrovia 0 Comments

Applications are closed for the 2024 cycle.

In the dynamic landscape of South African education, financial barriers often delay deserving students from pursuing their academic aspirations. However, amidst these challenges, the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bursary stands as a motivating force, offering support to talented individuals striving for excellence in their chosen fields. Let's delve into the history, requirements, application process, and benefits of this invaluable scholarship program.

The NRF Bursary program traces its origins back to the National Research Foundation Act of 1999. Established as an independent statutory body, the NRF aims to advance research and innovation in South Africa across various disciplines. As part of its commitment to fostering human capital development, the NRF introduced the bursary scheme to empower students through financial assistance.

Since its inception, the NRF Bursary has undergone significant evolution, adapting to the changing needs and priorities of South Africa's academic landscape. Initially focused on supporting postgraduate studies in key research areas, the bursary program has expanded its scope to encompass a diverse array of disciplines, reflecting the nation's commitment to fostering excellence across various fields. Through strategic partnerships and collaborations with academic institutions, the NRF has continuously enhanced the bursary scheme, ensuring its relevance and effectiveness in empowering future generations of scholars.

The impact of the NRF Bursary extends far beyond financial assistance. By providing opportunities for higher education and research, the bursary has become a catalyst for social mobility and economic empowerment, particularly for historically disadvantaged communities. Through targeted investments in human capital, the NRF has cultivated a vibrant ecosystem of researchers, innovators, and thought leaders, driving breakthroughs in science, technology, and the humanities. The bursary recipients have not only excelled academically but have also made significant contributions to addressing pressing societal challenges and advancing the frontiers of knowledge.

As the NRF Bursary continues to empower aspiring scholars, its legacy endures as a testament to the transformative power of education and opportunity. By investing in the next generation of leaders and innovators, the NRF honours its commitment to building a brighter future for South Africa and beyond. The bursary program serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring individuals to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact on the world.

To be eligible for the NRF Bursary, applicants must meet certain criteria, including:

1. South African citizenship or permanent residency. International students will not be considered for this bursary.

2. Enrolment or acceptance into a full-time postgraduate program (Honours or Master's or Doctoral level) at a recognized South African institution.

3. Academic excellence demonstrated through previous qualifications and achievements. (no less than a 65% average at previous study level).

4. Alignment of research interests with the NRF's strategic priorities and thematic areas.

5. Compliance with specific requirements outlined in the call for applications, which may vary depending on the funding instrument or discipline.

6. Fall within the age range, the age limit for entry is 28 years old for honours, 30 years old for master's, and 32 years for doctoral studies in the year of application, irrespective of the year of initial registration.

Application Process:

1. Review the eligibility criteria and guidelines provided by the NRF to ensure you meet the necessary qualifications.

2. Explore the various funding instruments and thematic areas supported by the NRF to determine the most suitable option for your research interests.

3. Gather essential documents, including academic transcripts, identification documents, letters of recommendation, and a detailed research proposal.

4. Submit your application through the NRF Online Submission System, following the instructions provided in the call for applications.

5. Your application will undergo a rigorous evaluation process, after which successful candidates will be notified of their awards.

Financial Means Test

The NRF financial means test serves as a crucial tool in ensuring equitable access to the NRF Bursary program in South Africa. Designed to assess the socio-economic circumstances of applicants, the means test considers various factors such as household income, assets, and dependents. By evaluating the financial need of each candidate, the NRF can allocate resources effectively, targeting support to those who require it most. This approach not only fosters inclusivity but also maximizes the impact of the bursary program, empowering individuals from diverse backgrounds to pursue their academic aspirations.

The NRF will identify students who have previously received financial need assessments from either the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) or the Ikusasa Students Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP). Additionally, students who have not undergone a financial need assessment will undergo a Household Financial Means Test conducted by the NRF in collaboration with ISFAP. Only students who complete the consent form and provide the required information will be subjected to the Household Financial Means Test by the NRF. The consent form must be accurately completed (including the inclusion of ID numbers and signatures of all household contributors listed on the online application form) and must be signed and stamped by a commissioner of oaths. Incomplete forms will not be considered.

Documents Needed:

1. Academic transcripts or records of previous qualifications.

2. Identification documents (e.g., ID card or passport).

3. Curriculum vitae (CV) detailing educational background, research experience, and publications, if any.

4. Letters of recommendation from academic referees familiar with the applicant's work and potential.

5. Research proposal outlining the objectives, methodology, and significance of the proposed study.

What the Bursary Covers:

The NRF Bursary provides comprehensive financial support to cover various expenses associated with postgraduate studies, including:

1. The bursary may cover all or a portion of tuition fees required for the duration of the study program.

2. Recipients receive a monthly stipend to assist with living expenses and other incidental costs.

3. Funding may be allocated for research-related expenses, such as laboratory equipment, fieldwork, travel, and conference attendance.

4. In addition to financial assistance, the NRF may offer supplementary support services, including mentorship, networking opportunities, and professional development workshops.

Note: Should you be awarded this bursary, you will be required to submit progress reports for the continuation of funding. Biannual progress reports must be finalized by mid-February and the end of August. Failure to submit progress reports or lack of response from the supervisor will result in the cancellation of scholarships.

Also note, should you not complete your degree once awarded the bursary the NRF will initiate the Defaulting Student Process, during which you will be contacted by the NRF to reimburse the scholarship they were granted.

Contact Details:

Postal: PO Box 2600, Pretoria, 0001

Address: NRF Building, South Gate CSIR Complex, Meiring Naudé Road, Brummeria, Pretoria

Telephone: 012 481 4000


Closing date for 2025:

Not yet specified.

The NRF Bursary in South Africa symbolizes the NRF's commitment to nurturing talent and driving innovation in the country. By providing financial assistance and support to deserving students, the bursary empowers individuals to pursue their academic and research ambitions, contributing to the advancement of knowledge and the socioeconomic development of South Africa. Aspiring scholars are encouraged to seize this opportunity and embark on a journey of discovery and excellence with the NRF's unwavering support.

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