Call for applications: NRF honours and final-year BTech block grant bursaries for 2019

Unisa's internal closing date is 7 December 2018.

The National Research Foundation (NRF) has opened the above call for applications.


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". In support of this mandate, the NRF makes funds available to support honours and final-year BTech students for the 2019 academic year. These bursaries are released as block grants to South African public universities (Table 1). In addition, the block grant awards for qualifying students are made to universities depending on the availability of the budget as well as in line with the Ministerial guidelines for improving equity in the distribution of DST / NRF Bursaries and Fellowships (Ministerial Guidelines on Bursaries and Fellowships, 2013).

Objectives of the programme

  • 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 (honours and final-year BTech) in all areas of (i) Science, (ii) Engineering and (iii) Technology, and in the (iv) Social Sciences and (v) Humanities.
  • Build a pipeline of the next generation of skilled scientists and researchers in South Africa.
  • 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 conjunction with the higher education sector and industry.


Areas of support


Innovation, including DST priority research areas

Scarce Skills Development Fund / NSFAS (Hons & BTech)

Students with disabilities

The bursary is intended to support full-time honours and final-year BTech candidates to pursue research studies in all areas of (i) Science, (ii) Engineering and (iii) Technology, and in the (iv) Social Sciences and (v) Humanities, at public universities and research institutions in South Africa. The percentage of supported students will be 80% from the Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) disciplines, and 20 % from the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). Astronomy; Bioinformatics; Biotechnology; Cellular and Molecular Biology; Chemistry; Climate Change;  Computer Science; Drug Discovery and Development; Earth Sciences; Earth Observation; Ecology; Engineering; Functional Genomics; Global Change, Society and Sustainability; Indigenous Knowledge Systems; Mathematical Sciences; Material Sciences; Marine Sciences; Medicinal Plant; Medical sciences; Nanotechnology; Nuclear Science; Nuclear Technologies in Medicine and Biosciences; Palaeosciences; Physics; Renewable Energy; Social Science and Humanities; and Space Science. The percentage of supported students will be 80% from SET and 20% from the SSH disciplines. Accounting; Actuarial Studies; Agriculture; Architecture; Auditing; Biotechnology; Business Management; Chemistry; Computer Science; Demography; Economics; Engineering; Forestry; Financial Management; Geology; Health Science; Information Systems; Mathematical Sciences; Physical Sciences; Statistics; Sport Science; Transportation Studies; Tourism.

The bursary is intended to support honours and final-year BTech students, with a physical or mental impairment, to pursue research degrees in all areas of (i) Science, (ii) Engineering and (iii) Technology, and in the (iv) Social Sciences and (v) Humanities, at public universities and research institutions in South Africa.


  • Bursaries are open to South African citizens and South African permanent residents who will register at a South African public university in 2019 on a full-time basis.
  • Applicants must be registered or temporarily registered at Unisa on 11 January 2019 for the application to be considered.


The following students are NOT eligible to apply:

  • Foreign nationals
  • Applicants who already hold an honours or final-year BTech degree
  • Applicants pursuing an undergraduate degree, irrespective of the degree for which they are enrolled
  • Students intending to pursue a postgraduate diploma qualification, including the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and the Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting
  • Students who will be employed (full time / part time) in 2019


Value of the award

  1. Innovation (including DST Priority Research Areas), Scare Skills, NRF-Sasol-Inzalo, current DST-NRF Interns and Students with disability: R60 000
  2. Freestanding: R30 000
  3. NSFAS: R76 000


Application process

All applications must be submitted on the NRF Online system:

Late or Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Please click here for framework document and click here for the application guide.


Publish date: 2018/10/05