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Mr. Theo Hooghiemstra, Nuffic Director & Dr Romilla Maharaj,  Executive Director: Human and Infrastructure Capacity Development, NRF.

Doctoral Training Agreement Between South Africa and the Netherlands

South Africa and the Netherlands are proud to announce that in May 2017, the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa and Nuffic (the Dutch Organisation for Internationalisation in Education), signed a Memorandum of Agreement to enable at least 50 South African students to study towards a PhD in the Netherlands between 2018 and 2022.

The Memorandum of Agreement implements the 2015 bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of science and technology between South Africa and the Netherlands. 

The agreement was signed by Nuffic Director, Mr Theo Hooghiemstra, in the presence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands to South Africa, H.E. Ms Marisa Gerards and NRF’s Executive Director: Human and Infrastructure Capacity Development, Dr Romilla Maharaj, 

As an agency for the advancement of science and technology, the NRF is mandated to fund research, support the development of high-end human capacity, and provide funding to establish and maintain research infrastructure platforms towards the production of knowledge in priority areas. 

Leveraging its reputation for excellence and performance, the NRF is able to establish partnerships with both local and international universities, research institutes and industry. These collaborations enable increased knowledge production and exchange, global access to research infrastructure, and the cohesive implementation of national imperatives to improve the quality of life of the people of the Republic, with a particular emphasis on responding to the current challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.  

More PhD graduates and more PhD-qualified academic staff

South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP 2030), recognises the development of doctoral qualifications as a key driver. The NDP 2030 aims to increase the number of academic staff with PhD qualifications from 43% in 2015 to 75% in 2030, and to grow the number of PhD graduates per annum to 5000. 

These systemic drivers have been recognised in the strategic plan of the organisation (NRF Strategy 2020), including the inherent requirement for systemic transformation. International partnerships are key to enable the achievement of these ambitious goals in the country. As such, the relationship with the Netherlands has led to this valuable opportunity for 50 aspiring doctoral students. The exposure to the international research arena will ensure a rich contribution to the South African National System of Innovation upon their return to South Africa. 


The NRF and Nuffic, through its Netherlands Education Support Office in Pretoria, will jointly implement the agreement, in close collaboration with South African and Dutch higher education institutions, and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).


Press Release