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South African grantmaker announces further disruptions due to pandemic

No NRF awards in September, and travel grant recipients should submit new plans

The National Research Foundation of South Africa has issued updates on how the coronavirus crisis is changing the way it will work this year.

On 5 June the grantmaker announced a postponement of its annual awards, planned for 10 September. The awards include a R300,000 (US$18,000) grant for transformation and research development champions, and R50,000 travel bursaries for emerging scholars. 

The decision to postpone was made “in light of the difficulties imposed by Covid-19 and the subsequent precautions taken by [the] government in controlling the pandemic”, the NRF said in a statement. “We are currently considering a number of options that will ensure that South Africa’s research stars receive the honours they have worked hard to achieve,” it added.

The NRF has also explained the handling of travel grants that applicants cannot use because of international restrictions. For some grants supporting travel this year, like International Centre for Theoretical Physics training grants, recipients have been asked to provide alternative travel dates in 2021. New applications for mobility grants that specify that the travel will take place this year will no longer be considered, the NRF said. 

The NRF will cancel any postgraduate funding that cannot be taken up during the 2020 academic year, such as postgraduate grants for international students who were unable to travel to South Africa as a result of restrictions. It will not allow recipients to automatically defer to 2021 postgraduate grants that were not taken up this year. Students who cannot take up their awards this year, and who need funding next year, are advised to reapply, the NRF said.