Thuthuka Frequently Asked Questions

1 What do I need to do before I can submit an application through the NRF Online Submission System?

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria of the Thuthuka Programme which is briefly outlined in the Thuthuka Pocket Guide or the Thuthuka Grants Manual; identify their project information, such as the Title of the Project, Project Abstract, project start and end year; and the details of the research; draw up a project budget that considers all the costs that could impact on undertaking the research, such as the direct, indirect and staff replacement costs. The NRF has provided researchers with a Budget Assist Costing Tool to prepare the budget offline, the purpose of which is to assist researchers to develop more realistic budgets. Applicants must register on the NRF Online Submission System. If they are already registered users, they must ensure that their Curriculum Vitae (CV) is updated/completed before creating an application.

2 What is the NRF Online Submission System?

The NRF Online Submission System is a system which allows potential applicants to apply for funding through an internet web interface.

3 What software do I need to have loaded before I can begin using the NRF Online System?

Applicants may use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome for best results.

4 What is involved in the NRF Online Submission System registration process?

Prospective applicants need to complete all the compulsory fields (indicated with *) on the NRF Online Submission System and create a password that is at least 6 characters long, contains small letters, capital letters and numerals. After applicants have successfully registered, they can login to the system by using the ID/passport number and password you provided.

5 Who should apply for Thuthuka funding?

Masters degree holders working towards a PhD, young researchers seeking to build experience and a viable publication record, researchers who have been absent from research for a while and would like to re-establish themselves within their field. The funding may be taken up by the designated (black males, female and persons with disabilities) groupings.  

6 Will an employee who is appointed on a fixed-term / contractual basis be eligible for consideration under the Thuthuka Programme?

Yes. Applicants must be employed in public Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Science Councils and other research institutions on a full-time or contractual basis. In the case of a contract, the appointment must extend for the duration of the approved three-year funding cycle.

7 What is the maximum amount that I can apply for Thuthuka funding?

The range (minimum and maximum) varies from year to year and specific amounts are announced with each call.

8 For how long can I obtain Thuthuka funding?

The maximum amount a time a grant holder can remain in the Thuthuka programme is six years, generally divided into two consecutive three-year cycles.  

9 Are white applicants encouraged to apply for Thuthuka funding?

There seems to be a perception that the Thuthuka grant does not cater for white researchers who feel they might be "wasting their time" if they apply. The Thuthuka budget split is 80/20 - 80% targeting designated groupings (black males, females and persons with disabilities) 20% of the budget available for others. So our white colleagues are encouraged to apply. Please note these are only Equity Targets (medium term target the NRF would like to achieve to affirm the race groups that have been disadvantaged). 80% of the budget might not necessarily be taken up by the designated groupings. Whatever is not taken up will be available to everyone else.

10 I am on a one year contract with my employer (renewed annually) but the Thuthuka Grant requires that I am contracted for the duration of the Grant

The NRF commits funding to projects for a minimum period of three years and would like to have a medium term commitment from the institution and grant holders to complete projects and to ensure non-delivery risks are managed properly from an auditing point of view.

11 Should one apply in Post PhD Track if your PhD is in its final stages?

No. Applicants must hold a Doctoral Degree awarded not more than five years prior to the date of first application.

12 If the employing institution does not give any funding, can an applicant get the commitment funding from an outside source?

No, an outside source might not have any obligations towards the research project for the duration of the funding cycle. The employing institution has various commitments such as ensuring that the grant holder is enabled to devote and allocate the required time attached to the project to the extent needed to undertake the research in a manner that complies with the work plan of the research proposal submitted to the NRF in order to achieve the research aims of the project. The institution further undertakes to commit its required portion of the co-funding related to the cost of the project, as per the operation of the relevant NRF funding programme, for every year of funding allocated to the project by the NRF. The institution also commits itself to ensuring that nominated student(s) and others involved in the project have access to adequate resources (infrastructure, equipment etc.) and supervisory support to undertake the stated research and to accomplish all the objectives of the funded project.

13 What is the difference between Lecturer Replacement and a Sabbatical Travel grant?

Sabbatical leave is accrued to academics based on years of service. Thuthuka grant holders may use their sabbatical grants as a travel grant e.g. to spend periods of time at another research institution.The intention of a lecturer replacement grant for Thuthuka grant holders is to allow the grant holder to buy leave where the applicant has not served in the employ of the university long enough to qualify for sabbatical leave. In this instance the academic can apply for paid leave and the institution can use the lecturer replacement funds to employ a replacement lecturer during the Thuthuka grant holder’s absence. The objective of a lecturer replacement grant is to fast track the research outputs of the TTK grant holder.

14 Can applicants be awarded Lecturer Replacement and Sabbatical concurrently?

No. Grant holders may not concurrently hold grants in the sabbatical travel and lecturer replacement categories.

15 Can one apply for conference proceedings/travelling only?

No. The Thuthuka Grant is not a travel grant. The grant is awarded to fund direct costs of the research for which the funds were awarded and the benefits should be directly attributable to the grant.

16 Will the grant holder be allowed to send a student to another country to attend a workshop / conference that is relevant to his / her research?

Yes. Grant holders may apply for support for all nominated postgraduate students to attend reputable conferences. The grant holder should motivate how their participation and attendance will benefit the research project.

17 Can funds be transferred or vired between funding categories?

Yes, but not without the prior approval from the NRF. Grant holders are required to inform the NRF of any anticipated funding transfers and request permission in writing for approval.

18 Should budgeting be based on the total projected cost of the research activities or only the NRF maximum contributions?

Applicants should give the total research project costs as it gives a realistic reflection of the direct, indirect and staff replacement costs.

19 There was a costing error on the application when it was submitted and the full cost of undertaking the research was not considered. Will the NRF increase our funding?

No. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the costs are correct in the application submitted. As a policy, the NRF will not increase the budget once funding has been agreed. Any additional amounts have to be borne by the applicant.