The Thuthuka Funding Instrument is a key intervention of the National Research Foundation (NRF) aimed at supporting emerging researchers. Thuthuka research grants are awarded to academics that hold academic and/or joint academic and administrative professional appointments, at NRF recognised public universities, science councils and other public research institutions. Applicants must be employed at these institutions on a full-time permanent or full-time contractual basis that extends for the full period of the Thuthuka grant (i.e. permanent or long-term contract of at least 3-5 years which will not expire before December 2025). Female applicants that are appointed on a fixed-term half-day appointment in order to accommodate family responsibilities, raising children of four (4) years of age and below, are also eligible to apply.

For detailed information on eligibility and other criteria and on the application requirements and process, refer to the attached Thuthuka 2023 Framework document.

Applicants are invited to apply for funding in one of the following three tracks:

  • PhD Track: for applicants wanting to obtain a Doctoral degree within the funding period;
  • Post-PhD Track: for applicants wanting to become established researchers, by strengthening their research capabilities; and
  • NRF Rating Track: for applicants wanting to apply for a NRF rating within the six-year funding period.

Application Details:

The Call for Proposals for funding of projects is currently open and all applications must be submitted online by the internal deadline date of the 27 May 2022. Applications must be submitted electronically on the NRF Connect system at Manuals on how to use the system are available on the NRF website at: or in the application user guide available for download.

It is important to read the relevant documents before deciding on which funding opportunity to apply to. All eligibility criteria, as well as the applicable requirements, must be taken into consideration. All Framework and Application and Funding Guide documents are available on the NRF website at

Kindly note: the Research Development office deadline date to submit all validated applications to NRF is the 15 June. Prior to this date, Research Development screens all applications submitted online by the internal closing date (27 May), provides individual feedback to each applicant, and allows applicants to implement changes before validating applications in time for the NRF’s deadline date. Any application submitted after the internal closing date will unfortunately not be reviewed for 2023 funding.


Refer to section 5 of the attached Thuthuka 2023 Framework document for eligibility and other criteria. Please read the call criteria carefully before commencing an application.

Important Notes:

  1. The Institutional Support Form (ISF) that commits the institution to support the Thuthuka grant if awarded, must be completed for each application submitted to the NRF. The applicant must download the form from the online application for the relevant Dean or equivalent at their employing institution who will be able to confirm and verify the institution’s support to the applicant for the proposed research project to sign. Failure to submit a fully signed and completed Institutional contribution form will render the application ineligible for review and will be rejected. The Funding Track must be indicated by the applicant on the ISF. Failure to include the funding track on the ISF will result in an automatic rejection of the application. The application will be screened/reviewed under the track indicated on the ISF. If the applicant is either not eligible under the specified track or has indicated the incorrect track, the application will be rejected.
  2. It is imperative that applicants read through the attached call documents thoroughly before commencing with the application online. In addition, applicants must update their CV on the NRF Connect system prior to commencing an application. Applicants are encouraged to consult the Thuthuka Guide when completing the budget section of the application and take note of all eligibility criteria and exclusions for each budget item. Budget items MUST be well motivated . It is important to note that minimum budget per year should not be below R25 000 (NRF contribution) or R50 000 (NRF + NMU contribution). P.S. The budget amounts for each year on the online application only reflects the NRF contribution.
  3. Applicants must include a detailed and well-motivated budget for each of the three (3) years in the three (3) year grant application (excluding those applicants applying under the PhD track where a 1 or 2 year budget can be submitted on condition that the applicant is in the process of completing the doctoral study by December 2023 or 2024 respectively). The budget for each of the three (3) years will be approved at the time of the grant award.
  4. For SET disciplines, total budgets should range per annum in the region of R25k-R150k and for SSH disciplines in the region of R25k – R100k (NRF’s contribution).The institution will top up the equivalent approved amount i.e. Nelson Mandela University contributes 50% of the research costs of the project.
  5. Research Materials and Supplies: This is a compulsory budget category of funding to be completed in the budget section of the application form. However, should the project not require materials and supplies, then a reason need to be provided under the motivation field.
  6. Please take note of the categories supported and not supported under the Thuthuka programme (see Section 10.2 of the attached Framework document).
  7. For applicants applying in the PhD track: It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the supervisor’s email address is correct and that the supervisor has responded by the latest 12 May as this category (i.e. supervisor report) is assessed by reviewers. The applicant can view the application PDF to check if the supervisor has responded to the request for a supervisor report. A “yes” indicates a response and a “no” indicates no response from the supervisor.
  8. Applicants are encouraged to consult the NRF’s Scorecard for the Assessment of Proposals in the framework document (pg. 30-32) when completing the online application and ensure that the proposal section of the application addresses the requirements that the NRF panel of reviewers look for in an application.
  9. It is strongly recommended that potential applicants do not wait for the last week before the internal deadline date to start the Thuthuka application. In order to submit a good proposal for funding, applicants would need to have a well thought out research plan linked to budget items that are well motivated. We encourage applicants to start the application process as soon as possible - not only to avoid the pressure of completing the application by the internal deadline date, but also to have sufficient time in sending the proposal to a senior academic in the same discipline for proof reading and feedback.

Internal Applicant Closing Date:
27 May 2022

Priscilla Mensah / Imtiaz Khan