South Africa: PhD Scholarships

The National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa has launched its 2019 call for full and sandwich PhD mobility. NRF will fund successful applicants from South Africa with a travel and subsistence allowance for for up to four years to undertake (part of) their doctoral studies in The Netherlands. The NRF call for applications has been developed in partnership with Nuffic’s Netherlands Education Support Office (NESO) in South Africa.

Full and Sandwich PhD

Prospective PhD students may apply to either full funding for a 4-year trajectory in the Netherlands, or a "split-site" option, in which they divide their research time between a South African institution and UMCG, leading to a Joint Degree (one diploma) awarded by the two institutions involved.

The Joint Degree option requires a Memorandum of Agreement between the institutions. The UMCG/University of Groningen currently has such agreement with Stellenbosch University. We are awaiting a response on whether such agreement may also be signed at a later stage, i.e. upon the granting of a Sandwich PhD application with NRF.

Call for Applications

The call for applications is open until 7 June 2019. It is the South African (prospective) PhD student who is responsible for submitting the application, with the support of the hosting researcher and Graduate School.


In case the PhD project is accepted, NRF funds in the case of full PhD projects:

  • A subsistence allowance of EUR 1250 per month
  • Health insurance of EUR 1310 per year
  • Travel allowance of EUR 800 (twice)
  • Visa costs of EUR 300

In the case of sandwich PhD projects, students receive EUR 7500 per year for subsistence abroad (1250 per month for 6 months), as well as an annual travel allowance of EUR 1600. NRF needs to confirm whether alternative structures for the sandwich PhD are possible.

No tuition/bench fees can be claimed from NRF.

The UMCG/Graduate School will provide hosting departments with the standard contribution towards bench fees for the period the student carries out their research at UMCG.

For Prospective PhD students

The most important prerequisite to be accepted as a PhD student at the Graduate School of Medical Science of the University of Groningen/ University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) is that there is a PhD supervisor willing to host you in their department.

If you have already located a potential supervisor, feel free to contact them yourself and refer them to this webpage for more information. If you experience difficulties getting in touch or if you need assistance locating a hosting supervisor, please consult our Research Portfolio and/or contact Joyce Fongers of the Graduate School with your CV and a summary of your research interests.

In particular, NRF has established the following conditions for applicant eligibility:

  • Be South African citizens or permanent residents with a SA ID number, although South African citizens will be prioritised;
  • Not hold this scholarship concurrently with any other NRF or South African/Netherlands government scholarship;
  • Provide a Master’s degree certificate or an official document from the university certifying that all requirements for the Master’s degree have been met and that they will be graduating;
  • Be intending to pursue full-time doctoral studies; and
  • Not hold full-time salaried employment during the tenure of the award.

For UMCG supervisors

In order to prepare the letter of acceptance for CONACYT applicants, UMCG Principal Investigators should provide the Graduate School of Medical Sciences with the following supporting information and documents:

CV of the candidate, including:

  • Full name
  • Place & date of birth
  • E-mail address

About the project:

  • Total number of months of funding requested (max. 48 months)
  • Provisional start date PhD project
  • PhD project title
  • Title(s) and name(s) of supervisor(s) and their departmental affiliation(s)

In case of a Sandwich PhD:

  • Structure of the PhD project
  • South African partner university
  • Title(s) and name(s) of supervisor(s) and their departmental affiliation(s) at Partner

More information