NRF Sabbatical Programme to Complete Doctoral Studies

This resource page covers the three phases to apply for and conclude the NRF Sabbatical programme. The page consists of an explanation of each phase.

Please note the deadline dates, which are updated annually.

Note that you will Flash Player 11.1 or higher to access the studio presentations. Click here to download.

Phase 1: How to be nominated

This short video covers the following:

1. A short introduction to the program

2. The eligibility criteria for the aspiring nominees

3. Expected output

4. The internal nomination process

Below is a process map indicating the steps to be followed to indicate your intent to be nominated as well as the persons responsible for each step. A pdf version is available under the resources section as well as a step-by-step narrative guide.


Internal advertisement

nrf guideline document (2016/2017)

nrf framework document (2016/2017)

process map of internal nomination

step-by-step narrative process guide

thuthuka communique

nrf multiple grant matrix

up leave policy

intent to nominate form

Support personnel at DRIS responsible for this call

Ninette Mouton - Designated Authority
Research Grants Manager
Tel: 012 420 3528

Noluthando Zikode - Designated Authority
Research Grants Administrator
Tel: 012 420 5847

Closing dates for nominations

Closed for 2016

Back up top ^

Phase 2: How to successfully complete and submit the NRF Sabbatical application

The resources in phase 2 are only applicable to applicant researchers whose nominations have been approved by the NRF. This phase will cover:

1. An overview of the NRF mandate, background of the programme, and the UP process to complete the NRF Sabbatical process on the system.

2. Lessons from previous Sabbatical applicants.

3. Tips on how to complete the application form on the NRF system.

4. Procedures and deadlines for the internal review panel.

1. NRF mandate and background on the programme

This presentation will cover:
  • An overview of the Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS) and the research support services for researchers
  • An overview of the National Research Foundation (NRF)
  • Background on the Sabbatical programme
  • A discussion of the application process and deadline date


The process map below provides a visual step-by-step guide for the application process. A narrative description, as well as pdf version, is available under the resources section.


Process map of application process

Step-by-step narrative guide of process

DRIS Matrix

Deadline dates for 2016 applicants:

Closed for 2016

2. Lessons from previous applicants

Victor Dibane

He is currently doing his PhD in Geology. Dibane advises applicants to identify risks and possible set-backs in their applications. Also, 'please find out when your money will be released.'

Sithembile Mbete

She is currently doing her PhD in Political Sciences. 'The grants has made a world of a difference in my life,' says Mbete. 'It's a shield from all the nonsense.' Mbete advises that the applicants should be prepared for a long application, and that they should establish a rapport with the Research Office - 'Use Ninette.'

Dr Prashilla Soma

Dr Soma received a Sabbatical grant last year. She gives tips on how to 'survive the Sabbatical'. Dr Soma provides some reassuring advice: 'There is life after writing your PhD.'


3. Tips on how to complete the application form

This audio presentation will cover the following:

  • How to create a NRF profile
  • How to link the Sabbatical application form to your profile
  • How to complete the CV section
  • Introduction to the internal review panel
  • Explanation of the electronic submission process


Deadline dates for 2016 applicants:

Closed for 2016

4. Procedures and deadlines for internal review panel

This audio presentation explains the internal review process.


Internal review checklist

Deadline dates for 2016 applicants:

Closed for 2016

Back up top ^


Phase 3: Conditions of grant, reporting, and financial management

This phase describes the process after the grant has been awarded. It will cover:

1. The process for signing the Conditions of Grant agreement

2. How to access the grant funding on the PeopleSoft system

3. How to complete the report on the NRF system

Consult the resource section for a step-by-step guide of the process for signing the Conditions of Grant and Reporting.

1. The process for signing the Conditions of Grant agreement

This audio provides a narrative explanation of the process for signing the Conditions of Grant.

This audio provides an overview of the Conditions of Grant agreement.



Step-by-step guide

Step-by-step narrative description

Sample award letter

Sample conditions of grant

NRF logo

Contact details of support personnel

Ninette Mouton
Research Grants Manager - Designated Authority
Tel: 012 420 3528

Liz-Marie Basson
Research Grants Manager - Designated Authority
Tel: 012 420 6627

Verna Mulder
Department of Finance
Tel: 012 420 4739

Contact details of faculty accountants
Note: Your faculty accountant is your point of contact for PeopleSoft assistance. Click here to access their contact details.

Sunette Steynberg - uploading thesis to UP Open Access
Academic Information Services (AIS) 
Tel: 012 420 4790
UP Open Access

2. How to access grant funding on PeopleSoft

This series of videos provide a guide on how to access and manage your grant funding on PeopleSoft.

How to access PeopleSoft via the UP intranet/staff portal

This video shows you how to access a cost centre through PeopleSoft.

How to interpret your summary statement

This video shows you how to access and interpret the summary statement. 

How to request and settle an advance

This video shows you how to request and settle an advance.


Step by step guide to request, track, and settle an advance

Travel Report checklist

How to settle a claim

This video shows you how to settle a claim on the PeopleSoft system.



Step by step guide to settle a claim

How to submit and settle an invoice

This audio takes you through the process of submitting and settling an invoice.

Instructions on how to submit and settle an invoice

How to generate a receipt

This audio takes you through the process of generating a receipt after you have received your purchase order and invoice from the supplier.


To verify which suppliers are on UP's supplier database, contact:

Renziana Viljoen
Tel: 012 420 5489
Fax: 012 420 3503

Note: Your Faculty Accountant is your point of contact for assistance with the PeopleSoft system.

Contact details of the Faculty Accountants

3. How to complete the report on the NRF system

This video will provide you with an overview of where to access the report and some general guidelines on filling out the report.


Example of report


Back up top ^

Frequently asked questions

This section contains answers to frequently asked questions from Sabbatical applicants.

1. Nomination

  • Are the number of months you can apply for dependent on how long you have been working at the University?

As an early-career researcher within the HR system, you don’t have enough leave for a sabbatical. When you get the sabbatical it won’t show on the HR system as sabbatical leave, it will show up as official leave. So it’s not something that’s based on the sabbatical leave accumulated on the system. You have to have worked a very long time to have enough sabbatical leave days.

  • Can I change the duration of my Sabbatical that I indicated on my nomination form once it has been accepted?

No, we cannot negotiate a change in the duration you chose. If you need an additional sabbatical, you will have to negotiate that with your Head of Department.

  • The evaluation framework document states that an application with two article outputs will score higher than an application with one article. If I take a six month sabbatical, am I also required to publish two research articles? Does the evaluation committee consider the duration of the sabbatical when they evaluate the application?

The evaluation panel considers the duration requested when considering outputs. The NRF will also give feedback to the panel, for their consideration, when assessing the applications.

  • Do I have to find the replacement lecturer?

Yes, you have to indicate who you employ as your replacement.

  • Can technical staff members apply for the NRF Sabbatical Grants?

The UP leave policy does not allow for technical staff members to take such leave so, technical staff members cannot apply.

2. Applications

  • What can you claim as running costs?

What is important is that whatever you put on the budget on the application form, that’s going to be the line items that you claim against. You have to be very specific.

  • Does your beginning date matter apart from the fact that it should correlate with what you submit?

If you are going to deviate from your work-plan, let us know at least a month in advance because we need to notify the NRF.

  • When can I start with my sabbatical?

Your beginning date should be between March and no later than October. After October, the NRF starts with the new cohort.

  • In my application, do I have to give a detailed break-down on how I intend on paying the replacement lecturer?

Yes, you may have to split the lecturer replacement funds because you teach more than one module.

  • Under what conditions can I claim money for supervisor support on the budget?

The travel expenses are usually for when your supervisor has to travel to meet you. There are instances where the supervisor is no longer employed at the University.

  • Can I included equipment in the running costs?

No, you cannot include equipment in the running costs because issues of ownership often come up. However, there are NRF grants for equipment that you can apply for e.g. the NRF Infrastructure Grant. [see NRF call schedule] [see equipment call schedule]

  • Is funding for conference attendance included in the grant?

Yes, you may use the Sabbatical grant to attend conferences.

  • The evaluation framework document indicates that the output requirements are one thesis and two publications. How would this apply to me if I opt for four publications in lieu of a “traditional” thesis? 

The NRF does consider researchers that opt for a publication-based doctoral qualification. So you can opt for publications instead of a thesis.

  • Clarification of terminology in the CV component of the NRF application:

- Primary field: this refers to your broad area of research e.g. Chemistry.
- Secondary field: this could be, for example, Analytical Chemistry.
- Field of specialisation: this could be further narrowed down, for example, medical chemistry.

3. Reporting

  • What is the deadline for publishing my research in UP’s open access?

There is no deadline. You will just have to provide us with proof that you are in the process of doing it.

UP's open access policies:

  • What will happen if I don’t complete the sabbatical?

The NRF may request you to pay back the grant if you don’t complete your PhD. 

  • How long does it take to create a cost centre?

It usually takes about a week.

  • Can I claim for the costs I incurred before receiving my grant money?

No, you cannot back-claim. You are only going to know the outcome of your application by the end of this year. It is recommended that you don’t start your sabbatical before March next year because we’ve had situations where we only found out in February. It takes a very long time so don’t start your work-plan before March. You can’t claim anything before the grant is awarded.

  • What is a cost centre?

It is like an account with the University. For more information, read this article on cost centres.

  • Is the NRF cost centre separate from the ones with research funds that you may have at the moment?

Yes, it’s an NRF specific cost centre. It is known as an N-type cost centre.

  • If I publish during the course of my writing, will my publication still be considered?

As long as you were published during the period of your sabbatical.

4. Carry forward

Note: in the Framework document, it says that the carrying over of funds will only be permitted under extenuating circumstances. Don’t worry about this. UP finance has been 100% successful in securing carry forwards but it is better, not to take the risk, and spend all your money. However, if you start your sabbatical in June or later, you’ll have to apply for one.

  • If it happens that my costs exceed what I put in the initial budget?

You cannot get anything in addition. You can only carry forward [link] what you have been allocated. Your respective Departments do sometimes contribute to your budget. 

Back up top ^