Change the world

Before registering as a student, you need to determine whether or not you will have sufficient funds to finance your studies, and if not, from which alternative sources you will be able to receive funding. On the right you will find a downloadable list of postgraduate bursary opportunities.

Academic fees and living expenses are perceived as the two main costs in study. Securing sufficient funding may be difficult, but the various sources of funding may be considered:

What kind of financial support exists?

University funding

The University has a number of bursaries and scholarships available for academically deserving students. We also administer funds from corporate donors and national funding schemes such as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Briefly, University financial support in the form of scholarships and bursaries includes the following:

For full-time undergraduate studies:

The University offers three types of financial assistance for full-time students, namely:

  • Bursaries administered by Nelson Mandela University using funds provided by donors and trustees.
  • Bursaries and study loans administered by other organisations, to which applications must be directed.
  • NSFAS loans and bursaries (

You qualify for a NSFAS loan if you are:

  • A South African citizen;
  • Registered at a South African university;
  • An undergraduate, studying for a first higher educational qualification, or studying for a second higher education qualification, if this is necessary to practise in your chosen profession (e.g. LLB or HDE);
  • Able to demonstrate potential for academic success;In need of financial assistance.

NSFAS Bursaries for Disabled Students

  • Applicants need to be a South African citizen;
  • Be studying towards a first higher education qualification, or towards a second qualification that is also required for entering a chosen profession.
  • Applicants need to be regarded financially needy and unable to obtain a loan from a commercial bank.

A comprehensive overview of all funding available can be obtained from the Financial Aid Office.

You can also view what is available in terms of  postgraduate bursary/scholarship opportunities from The Office of Research Development. 

For honours and BTech studies:

Honours students are the largest group of postgraduate students and form an important source from which master’s students are drawn. Therefore the University makes adequate funding available to sustain a viable pool of honours students.

  • Honours Bursary
    • In order to qualify, an applicant must have obtained at least 55% in the major subject which a student wishes to pursue at postgraduate level.
    • The bursary is only available to citizens of South Africa and SADAC countries.
    • The bursary is available for a maximum of one year.
    • Closing date for applying is 30 October each year.
    • Please consult the Financial Aid Office for more detailed information on the criteria.
  • National Research Foundation (NRF) Free-standing Honours/BTech Scholarship
    • In order to qualify, an applicant must have obtained an aggregate of at least 65% for the final year undergraduate subject(s) they are pursuing for honours or final year BTech study.
    • Only South African citizens may apply.
    • The bursary is available for a maximum of one year.

Fields of study supported:

  • Social and Human Sciences
  • Natural and Applied Sciences
  • Engineering and Technology (SET)

Please consult the NRF for more detailed information at:

  • NRF/Department of Labour Scarce Skills Scholarship
    • In order to qualify, an applicant must have obtained an aggregate of at least 60% for the final year undergraduate subject(s) they are pursuing for honours or final year BTech study.
    • Only South African citizens may apply.
    • The bursary is available for a maximum of one year.
    • Fields of study supported:
      • Accounting
      • Actuarial Sciences
      • Agricultural Sciences
      • Auditing
      • Biotechnology
      • Chemistry
      • Computer Science
      • Demography
      • Engineering
      • Financial Management
      • Geology
      • Information Systems
      • Mathematical Sciences
      • Physics
      • Statistics
      • Tourism
      • Transportation Studies.

Please consult the NRF for more detailed information at:

  • NRF/Innovation Scholarship
    • In order to qualify, an applicant must have obtained an aggregate of at least 65% for the final year undergraduate subject(s) they are pursuing for honours or final year BTech study.
    • Only South African citizens may apply.
    • The bursary is available for a maximum of one year.
    • Fields of study supported:
      • Agricultural Sciences
      • Biochemistry
      • Biotechnology
      • Chemistry
      • Computer Science
      • Engineering (all fields)
      • Geology
      • Information Communication Technology
      • Mathematical Sciences
      • Pharmaceutics
      • Physics
      • Statistics

Please consult the NRF for more detailed information at:

  • NRF Honours Block Grant
    • In order to qualify, an applicant must have obtained an aggregate of at least 65% in the main subject to be taken at full-time honours level.
    • Only South African citizens may apply.
    • The bursary is available for a maximum of one year.

Please consult the NRF for more detailed information at:

  • NRF Scholarship for Disabled Students
    • The scholarship is awarded for one year of full-time study for the completion of a one-year honours or BTech degree in the study areas designated by the Department of Labour as scarce skills.
    • Only South African citizens may apply.
    • The scholarship holder may not hold full-time salaried employment during the tenure of the scholarship.

Please consult the NRF for more detailed information at:

A comprehensive overview of all funding available can be obtained from the Financial Aid Office.

For master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral studies

A host of financial support opportunities are managed by our The Office of Research Development (RD). These bursaries/scholarships have different sources of funding and therefore different selection criteria. Visit their website for an overview of all possibilities at

University administered bursaries and scholarships ►

The application forms for the following bursaries/scholarships are obtainable from the RD when calls are made for application:

  • Nelson Mandela University Postgraduate Research Scholarship
  • Nelson Mandela University Financially Needy Bursary
  • National Research Foundation (NRF) Scholarship and Bursaries
  • SA Medical Research Council (MRC) Scholarship
  • Public Servants Association of SA (Stiglingh Memorial Bursary)
  • Goldstein Bursary (Benjamin, Sophia Margaretha and Henriette Constance)
  • HB Webb Gift
  • Joshua Fullard Research Scholarship
  • Sport Science Scholarship
  • Winifred Wilson Bursary Fund
  • Ernst and Ethel Eriksen Trust
  • Postgraduate Research Scholarship
    All full-time and part-time students registered for full and partial research master’s or doctoral study at the University will be eligible to apply for these scholarships, including foreign students.

Students’ research should preferable fall within the focus areas of Nelson Mandela University. Academic merit will be a criterion. Scholarships must initially be applied for, and are not granted automatically. The Postgraduate Research Scholarships are intended to cover the study fees, books and living costs of students.

  • Financially Needy Bursary
    This bursary is available to masters and doctoral students who qualify on merit for the Postgraduate Research Scholarship, but are financially disadvantaged.
  • NRF scholarships and bursaries
    The University in collaboration with the National Research Foundation offers financial support to master’s and doctoral students through:
    • Free-standing scholarships and fellowships which will be awarded directly to students undertaking full-time study and part-time study in the case of disabled students, on a competitive basis. Students must apply for these awards themselves, and remain responsible for the submission of all required documentation.
    • Please consult The Office of Research Development for more information.
    • Grant-holder linked assistantships and bursaries which will be granted to researchers within their NRF support packages and may be awarded to students selected by NRF grant-holders linked to their research plans. Applications must be submitted by the researcher as part of their research grant application in the respective NRF Focus Area programmes or The Office of Research Development programmes.
    • Please consult your academic supervisor for more information.
    • Information can also be obtained directly from the NRF website:
  • SA Medical Research Council (MRC) Scholarship
    The MRC offers master's, doctoral and post-doctoral scholarships for research undertaken within the research focus areas of population health, disease and disease mechanisms, health systems, settings and policy. Application forms are available from RD or directly from their website at:
  • Public Servants Association (PSA) of SA (Stiglingh Memorial Bursary)
    Bursary for undergraduate and postgraduate, full-time or part-time studies in the fields of science and medicine. Only available for public servants and members of the PSA and their children.
  • Goldstein Bursary (Benjamin, Sophia Margaretha and Henriette Constance)
    Bursary for university-type of study from second year onwards.
  • HB Webb Gift
    A merit bursary for study in any field. Awarded on academic merit (an average of 75% or higher is required).
  • Joshua Fullard Research Scholarship
    A scholarship for full-time master’s studies. Awarded on academic merit to a student in the Faculty of Health Sciences (an average of 70% for honours is required).
  • Sport Science Scholarship
  • Bursary for research master’s studies in Sport Science (specifically related to the development of soccer).
  • Winifred Wilson Bursary Fund
    Funding available for postgraduate studies in English language and literature.
  • Ernst and Ethel Eriksen Trust
    Funding available for master’s and doctoral studies in any discipline.

Sport bursaries

The Madibaz Sport annually allocates a number of monetary sport bursaries to deserving students and school leavers in an effort to improve the standard of sport at the institution and to ensure that young Eastern Cape sport stars continue their academic and sporting careers in the province.

Application can be made by completing the downloadable sport bursary application form available on the Sport Bureau website at Forward it to the Director: Sport at the address indicated on the form before 30 September each year.

Successful candidates will be informed as soon as possible, by no later than 31 December each year.

National funding and research councils

South African has various statuary science councils through which the government commissions research for social, scientific and technological development. Most of these statuary bodies do not only provide opportunity for research development, but also provides funding for studies.

As the government's national agency responsible for promoting and supporting basic and applied research as well as innovation, the NRF provides services and grants to support research and postgraduate research training, vital to the development of South Africa.

NRF provides postgraduate study bursaries for honours, final year BTech studies, masters’ and doctoral studies.

NRF is also linked up with various national research facilities and councils, research and technology development programmes, as well as international bodies that facilitate South African participation in relevant international research activities. These research bodies can be reached via the NRF website at

Funding opportunities granted by the following councils and institutes can be viewed on their websites:

Also visit the SAinfo webpages on education matters for more information on and links to various research councils. (

Corporate bursaries and donor funds

Various companies and donors worldwide make contributions to education as part of their corporate social investment. Apart from a range of such bursaries and funds administered by the University, applicants can directly approach companies, trusts and foundations for possible funding opportunities. Applications should be sent directly to such funders.

Students can obtain bursary booklets listing such independent funding opportunities from both the offices of Financial Aid and Research Development.

International funding and collaboration

Universities and research foundations and councils all strive to establish international opportunities for collaborative study and research for South African students, researchers and scientists.

  • NRF International Research Grants (IRG) section

Science crosses international boundaries to provide strong, positive connections between individual scientists, institutions and nations. NRF facilitates such international linkages to strengthen the research base in South African.

Apart from their contact with the International Council for Science (ICSU) and other similar bodies, they expand through the African Interaction Programme in particular scientific cooperation between scientists in South Africa and their counterparts in the rest of Africa.

  • International funding and collaboration opportunities

The University provides the following linkages:

Applicants can obtain a complete guide on the fees structure or download it from

Canon Collins Trust

The Canon Collins Trust provides scholarships to students from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Angola and Mozambique who wish to pursue a postgraduate degree (mainly Master's degrees of one or two years) in either the United Kingdom or South Africa.

Enquires should be directed to the Regional Director at or visit the Canon Collins Trust website for more details.

Commonwealth scholarships

South Africa is a member of the Commonwealth community. Scholarship opportunities are made available to South African universities from time to time for studies locally or abroad. Contact details will be made available when scholarships become available.

DAAD Scholarships

The Deutcher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) or German Academic Exchange Service is a private, publicly funded, self governing organisation of the institutions of higher education in Germany. It has the function of promoting international academic relations especially through the exchange of students and staff. In-country and in-region scholarships are provided at African universities in the form of master’s and PhD grants. Eligibility
South African citizen (in exceptional cases permanent residents); Age limit of 36 at the date of application; Recommended by the Head of Department; Pursuing master’s or doctoral studies; Applicants may come from those fields of study that have a strong relevance to national development.
Enquiries should be directed to Mrs Helga Islam:

FirstRand Educational Trust: Laurie Dippenaar Scholarship for International Postgraduate study

This scholarship provides for postgraduate study, in any field, at a recognised international university.

While there is no age limit, preference will be given to candidates under the age of 35. Note that applicants will be expected to have already gained entrance to a recognised international university before submitting information to FirstRand.

The successful applicant will be expected to, on completion of their studies, return to work in South Africa for a period of at least five years. Contact details will be made available when scholarships become available.

The Union Society at Newcastle University

One scholarship for a student from South Africa to study for a year-long, full-time postgraduate taught degree programme at Newcastle University. Further information about the university is available at:

Postdoctoral funding

The Office of Research Development (RD) administers postdoctoral scholarships, dealing with both South African and international postdoctoral scholars with expertise in a wide range of academic fields. The following opportunities for postdoctoral scholarships exists:

  • University funded scholarships (contact RD)
  • Departmentally-funded scholarships (contact the relevant academic department)
  • External funded scholarships (e.g. NRF and Claude Leon Foundation) – contact RD.

Employer funding

In the competitive world of work it is imperative to develop a professional skills and knowledge base to set yourself apart from the rest.

Most employers perceive the professional development of their employees important and have established various ways to improve their pool of skills – be it by in-house training or funding of formal studies. Consult your company’s Human Resources Department or Training Centre for support.

Study Loans

Not all of us are fortunate enough to qualify for bursaries and scholarships. Organisations and companies, including corporate banks, may offer competitive student loans to enable you to realise your study career at a reasonable pay-back agreement. Contact your local bank branch or employer for more information.

Financial Aid Concessions

Contact information
Mr Andrew Kock
Senior Marketing Practitioner: Postgraduate & Mature Student Markets
Tel: 041-504 2162