Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (PDRF)

Postdoctoral fellows are appointed to strengthen the research capacity within the UFS.  Postdoctoral fellows should have a relevant PhD degree that is not older than five years.

Postdoctoral fellows are not employees of the university and therefore do not qualify for any employee benefits, including retirement funding, membership of retirement funds, support in respect of a medical aid scheme or any for other employee benefits.

The primary objectives of PDRFs include the following: 
  • To place the University of the Free State at the forefront of research and innovation.
  • To generate new knowledge and transfer knowledge and skills.
  • To enable outstanding doctoral graduates to obtain experience of research and innovation at a higher education institution.
  • To provide an opportunity for promising young researchers from different universities to enhance their research skills and expertise.
  • To expand existing research and ideas and to pursue new lines of research.
  • To interact with other academics and postdoctoral fellows.
  • To emphasise an increase in publication outputs.
  • To establish and enhance South African intellect.
  • To develop knowledge for stakeholders such as the government, business, industry, and social communities.
  • To promote national and international conference attendance by postdoctoral fellows and the presentation of research papers at these conferences.
Call for applications

The NRF call is currently open and has been distributed as follows.

NRF Freestanding, Innovation and Scarce Skills Postdoctoral Fellowships 2023

Internal UFS closing date: 10 May 2023

The National Research Foundation (NRF), in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), is pleased to announce the call for fellowship applications for 2024 in the following categories:

  • DST- NRF- Freestanding Postdoctoral Fellowships;
  • DST- NRF- Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowships; and
  • DST- NRF- DHET - Scarce Skills Development Fund: Postdoctoral Fellowships


The eligibility criteria applicable to all the postdoctoral fellowships supported by the NRF are listed in section 6.1 in the attached framework document. In addition, sections 6.2, 6.3, and 6.4 list eligibility criteria for each category of fellowships relating to citizenship requirements.

General eligibility criteria for all NRF postdoctoral fellowships

  • Applicants must have obtained their doctoral degrees within four (4) years of submitting an application to the NRF.
  • Applicants who are currently completing their doctoral thesis for submission may apply; however, they should complete their doctoral degree by 31 December 2023.
  • Applicants applying for a second NRF postdoctoral research placement to continue with research on the same project are not eligible.
  • Applicants applying for a second NRF postdoctoral research placement will be eligible if they intend to undertake research on a new project.
  • Applicants applying for a third NRF postdoctoral research placement are not eligible.
  • Full-time employees of higher education institutions (HEIs) or other research institutions are only eligible to apply if they intend to take unpaid leave for the duration of the postdoctoral fellowship.

Applicants must apply on the NRF online submission system at:

For more information pertaining to this call, please refer to the attached Framework and Application documents.

UFS contact person: 
Mandy Jampies
T: +27 51 401 9725

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