NRF Masters Freestanding Block Grants

NRF Masters Freestanding Block Grants: The University of South Africa invites applications for the NRF Master’s Freestanding Block Grants for 2018/2019 academic year.

The NRF is mandated by an Act of Parliament, the National Research Foundation Act (Act No 23 of 1998) to “support and promote research through funding, human capacity development and the provision of the necessary research facilities, in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge”. The scholarships are funded by the NRF core grant allocation from National Treasury, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the International Institution for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) for Human Capital Development (HCD).

Objectives of the NRF Masters Freestanding Block Grants

  • Support the development of a critical mass of globally competitive human resources in prioritised areas.
  • Promote and advance science, research and innovation.
  • Contribute towards the increase in the number and quality of South African postgraduate students in all areas of (i) Science, (ii) Engineering and (iii) Technology, and in the (iv) Social Sciences and (v) Humanities, at master’s levels in South Africa.
  • Build a pipeline of the next generation of skilled scientists and researchers in South Africa.
  • Provide exposure to local, regional and international research programmes in order to build long-lasting collaborative contacts.
  • Effect transformation in the percentage representation of postgraduate students from designated groups viz. black, female and persons with disabilities.
  • Support the development of postgraduate training to meet the specific needs of the country in collaboration with international partners, the higher education sector and industry.

Worth of Award (NRF Masters Freestanding Block Grants)

Master’s Freestanding Bursary: R50 000


NRF Masters Freestanding Block Grants Eligibility

NRF Masters Freestanding Block Grants Applications will be accepted from the following fields:

  • Science, Engineering and Technology (SET), a minimum of 80% of this grant supports studies in the SET fields and Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) fields, 20% in SSH.
  • Applicants must be registered full time for a master’s dissertation in 2018.
  • Applicants that are registered for the proposal module are not eligible to apply.
  • Applicants who registered for their degree before 2017 are not eligible to apply.
  • Scholarships are based on academic merit.
  • Preference will be given to students that were previously funded by NSFAS or the University Financial Aid Scheme (proof must be attached).
  • Applicants’ research should be aligned with one of the National Research Priorities areas.
  • Bursaries are not awarded for parallel degrees, that is, a second degree at the same level of a degree already held by the applicant.
  • The bursary-holder may hold bursaries, awards, assistantships and receive emoluments from private institutions in conjunction with the NRF Scholarship. The bursary may not be held concurrently with any other NRF or government-funded scholarships.
  • Bursars are NOT allowed to be employed on a full-time basis (this include interns, postgraduate student assistants or any other form of employment where they are remunerated), may only undertake a maximum of 12 hours per week of teaching, tutorials, assistance or demonstrating duties.
  • In line with the South African equity targets, NRF Freestanding bursaries will be approved according to the following set equity targets: 80% blacks, 55% women, 20% white and 4% students with disabilities.
  • In line with the South African equity targets, the Innovation Block Grant is awarded to South African citizens / South African permanent residents, 13% to foreign nationals, 5% to SADC, 4% to the rest of Africa and 4% to students outside Africa. In addition DST-NRF Innovation bursaries will be approved according to the following set equity targets: 80% blacks, 55% women, 20% white and 4% students with disabilities.

How to Apply for the NRF Masters Freestanding Block Grants

Complete the attached form and submit it to the Unisa Research Support Directorate with the required supporting documentation (see below list) via e-mail ( by 24 October 2018:

  1. 2018 proof of registration on the University letterhead
  2. Certified copy of South African ID
  3. Full academic record on the University letterhead
  4. Proof that the student was previously funded by NSFAS or University Financial Aid Scheme (only applicable to students that were previously funded by NSFAS)
  5. Affidavit from a police station (comfirming that you are NOT full-time employed during 2018 academic year (ieyou do not hold any full-time salaried job).

Deadline: applications Close 24 October 2018


Click here for more details and to apply

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