Research Development Fund (RDF)


The RDF, funded by the University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG) is available to Nelson Mandela University staff members conducting research, who do not currently have access to external grant funding. The RDF is intended to provide funding primarily in three categories as follows:

  1. Seed funding for emerging researchers who are in the process of studying towards a further academic qualification. Staff MUST be registered and have received FPGSC approval for their research proposal before funds can be allocated.
  2. Post PhD funding: This is meant to provide initial funding for researchers who have recently completed their doctoral qualification. The general expectation is that during the year of funding the researcher should prepare applications for external funding such as the NRF’s Thuthuka Grant.
  3. Bridging funding for new staff at the Mandela University: Given that staff are not generally able to transfer their research funds from their previous employer, seed funding is made available to kick-start their Mandela University research activities.


There are two RDF calls per annum (Semester 1 and 2). All funding calls are advertised via MEMO.

Kindly note that all applications need to be submitted on the RDF Online system via the following link: 

Applications will follow a review process and applicants will be informed of the outcome of the review process.

The basis of the application is a funding proposal/research project plan which should give the Review Committee sufficient information to decide whether the project is feasible and will make a contribution to Mandela University’s Research Strategy.

Applicants need to develop a research proposal/research plan with clear outcomes to be considered for an RDF allocation and the research plan should match the project aims/objectives to specific activities and outputs.


Applications will only be reviewed upon submission of a completed online application which contains the recommendation of the Head of Department (HOD) and the relevant Director of School (DOS). Applicants are requested to kindly follow up with the relevant parties to ensure that recommendations are submitted.

Incomplete applications cannot be screened and will thus be excluded from the review process.



Successful applications will be funded on the basis of a specific budget request detailing research-related costs. Allocations will be limited to a maximum of R25 000 for SSH disciplines and a maximum of R40 000 for STEM disciplines.

Funding may be requested in the following broad areas:

  • Project running costs (costs directly related to implementing research activities contained in the proposal): the research proposal/research plan must include a detailed and well-motivated budget breakdown, sufficiently linked to each objective. If you include stationery items and printing costs in the budget section these should not include standard items, but specifically printing of questionnaires and such direct research-related costs.
  • Research or student assistance (this is meant for the running of specific research activities and is not meant to fund bursaries or the research of a student). RD encourages research or student assistantships for the purpose of supporting research activities of emerging researchers, and as a vehicle for motivating senior undergrad students to pursue postgrad studies.


Items that are not funded by the RDF are as follows:

  • Funding for degrees at the same level of qualification as already held by applicant.
  • Registration costs (seek HR assistance in this regard).
  • Bursaries or scholarships for postgraduate students.
  • Teaching replacement (this category is covered through the Teaching Relief Grant - TRG).
  • Conference travel (this category is covered through the Conference Travel Grant - CTF). 
  • Basic office equipment (desks, chairs, filing cabinets, photocopiers, printers).
  • General stationary, photocopying and printing costs.
  • Telephone, fax and internet costs. 
  • All ICT equipment (personal laptops, computer hardware, and purchase or renewal of software licenses) is excluded, unless for specialised equipment and software licences expressly motivated as part of the project running costs. 
  • Professional society memberships, journal subscriptions (unless strongly motivated where the journal cannot be sourced by Mandela University or via partner institutions).
  • Publication Fees (this can be applied for through the Department of Research Support and Management).
  • Books, unless well motivated and supported for specific purpose. Please note that any book purchases are to be made through the Library as per policy, they will then be bar coded and placed on permanent loan to you.
  • Costs for finalisation of thesis - editing and printing (this can be applied for through RD from a separate fund).
  • Any funding line that is listed as: “miscellaneous”, “other” or “etc.”


Expected outputs

Application category

Examples of Expected outcomes

Funding towards obtaining a postgraduate qualification

Evidence of:

  • Significant progress made towards obtaining the qualification; and
  • Including but not restricted to conference presentations and/or publications in DHET accredited journals)

Post-doctoral funding towards a specific research project
Bridging funding for new staff at the Nelson Mandela University

Evidence of:

  • Significant progress made towards meeting the aims and objectives of the project; and
  • Peer-reviewed accredited outputs (e.g. publication in DHET accredited journals) and/or conference presentations


  • All funding from other sources must be reported to the Office of Research Development (RD) and the total funds received by the applicant shall not exceed the total expenses.
  • The award must be taken up within the financial year in which it is awarded.  Should funds not be utilised in the year of award, the applicant is required to make contact with RD as such funds will need to be returned to RD for reallocation.
  • Successful applicants agree to post-grant reporting requirements and will be required to provide proof of progress in terms of envisaged outputs.
Contact information
Ms Jadine Januarie
Research Development Administrator
Tel: 041 504 2038