The National Research Foundation (NRF) embarked on a strategic partnership with the FirstRand Foundation (FRF) and introduced the Black Academics Advancement Programme (BAAP) to promote the development of Black South African academics and South African academics with disabilities, to become nationally and internationally recognised researchers.

Nominations for this programme are made via the respective Departments and Schools in the various faculties. Mandela University has had a 100% success rate for applications submitted to the NRF for this funding instrument. The number of applications that may be submitted by each university, in either track, is not limited.

PhD track:
The criteria for the PhD Track is that applicants should be registered for a PhD in any discipline and should not be older than 45 years of age at the time of application. The applicant is only required to be registered and have a PhD research project in place which is supported by the supervisor.  Proposal approval and/or ethical clearance (if required) is not mandatory at the time of application. If the application is successful, proof of approval will be sent to the NRF together with the signed Conditions of Grant at the beginning of the academic year of study.

Applicants in the PhD track may apply for one of the following:

  • A three-year grant to undertake and complete a PhD degree;
  • A one- or two-year grant for completion of the PhD degree, if the degree is in progress;
  • A six month grant for completion of a PhD degree, if the degree is near completion;
  • A three-year grant to spend at least one year completing the PhD degree and the remaining period undertaking Post-PhD research training.

Postdoctoral track:
The criteria for the postdoctoral track is that applicants should not be older than forty-five years of age and have completed a doctoral degree within five years of the time of application. Applicants in the Post-PhD track may apply for a one- or two-year grant to undertake a period of Post-PhD research training that must include a period of research training at an international university or research institution outside of South Africa or, in industry either in South Africa or abroad.


Faculty Commitment:
The grant is awarded as follows:

  • PhD track: 6 months to 3 years
  • Postdoctoral track: 1 to 2 years

The University (and by implication Faculties) allow the nominated colleagues to spend 80% of their time each year on research-related activities and less than 20% of their time on postgraduate teaching and supervision duties during the grant period. The funding awarded includes up to R200 000 annually for lecturer replacement and categories for running expenses [maximum R100 000]. Applicants requesting a BAAP grant for six months to complete the PhD are limited to a maximum of R50 000. Awards in subsequent years are released upon approval of a satisfactory Annual Progress Report.


Nominee Commitment:
Successful nominees are required to complete an internal agreement from HR, in addition to the NRF’s condition of grant, which will bind them to the service of Mandela University for the equivalent of the grant period.  

Application Process:

  • Faculty Deans submit nominations of eligible candidates on an official letterhead to Dr Priscilla Mensah and Mr Imtiaz Khan before the internal closing date each year. Each nomination must be accompanied by:
    • A detailed motivational letter stating the reasons for nominating the candidate, the alignment with the department/Faculty research and academic staffing plan and, any strategic partnership with other universities for proposal development, co-supervision and/or support for emerging research development. The letter must include the funding track (i.e. PhD or post-PhD) of the applicant and the grant period being supported.
    • A self-motivation letter from the applicant which details how this grant will advance his/her academic and research career plan and the benefits and intended outcomes to be achieved from the sabbatical leave. The letter must also include the funding track and the period of sabbatical.
  • All nominations are consolidated for approval by the DVC:RII prior to Research Development Office approaching the nominees to commence their application on the NRF Connect system (
  • Approved nominees will have until the internal closing date to submit their application on the NRF Connect System for internal review. RD will provide individual feedback to applicants before final submission to the NRF.



Deadline Dates and Enquiries

2023 BAAP dates:

19 April 2022: Submission of nominations by faculty deans
27 May 2022: Submission of applications on NRF Connect by approved nominees
15 June 2022: Final submission to NRF


Dr Priscilla Mensah / Mr Imtiaz Khan