The Future Professors Programme (Phase 01) serves the best and brightest of a transformed next generation South African professoriate. It is one of six national collaborative initiatives hosted by the Department of Higher Education and Training and individual South African universities. Phase 01 is hosted administratively at the University of Stellenbosch but serves all 26 South African public universities. The programme is designed to complement and supplement next generation initiatives at respective universities and we aim to collaborate with such initiatives.

We prepare early to mid-career academics across the disciplines. Our purpose is to build capacity in the South African national science system by preparing lecturer and senior lecturer equivalent staff for the professoriate. This is a direct response to current inequality in representation in the senior ranks of the academy (associate and full professor levels). This is done through strong cross-disciplinary and inter-university peer networks inside and outside the fellowship programme.

The programme includes three core components:

  • Seminar series (residential programme)

  • Baseline evaluation

  • International engagement

The programme runs over two years and participation in the full programme is required. The residential seminar series consists of five themes to be covered in year one. Should the current restrictions on travel ease, these engagements will occur as five to six two day meetings at major universities across the country, with additional breakout sessions to cover specialist topics. The programme covers travel and accommodation arrangements. Should the current pandemic lockdown measures persist, the residential programme will continue online.

Based on the nature of each fellow’s intellectual project, personal circumstances and employment situation, a residency abroad is arranged or, alternatively, a research visit to your university by an international scholar in your field. The kind, nature and timing of the international engagement is subject to current pandemic measures.

Funding for individual projects is sought through the appropriate funding agencies, with additional support provided by the programme to make travel and teaching replacement possible. This will be negotiated with the cooperation of the individual fellow and their resident university.


Our primary focus is the advancement of black and woman South Africans into the professoriate. However, the Future Professors Programme is open to applications from all permanent academic staff at South African public universities who meet the criteria for appointment as fellows of the programme. Previously unsuccessful nominees may be nominated again, provided they conform to the eligibility criteria.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Nominees should hold a doctorate and already have a track-record of some academic achievement that would signal advancement to the senior ranks of the academy.

  • Academics, irrespective of discipline, permanently employed in full-time positions and preferably, but not exclusively, in the lecturer and senior lecturer categories at South African public universities, may be nominated.

  • There is no age restriction.

  • A rating from the South African National Research Foundation is not required but it is an advantage.

  • Fellows are nominated by their university’s designated authority. No direct applications without the attachment of the nomination letter will be accepted. If you do not know who your designated authority is, you may inquire from us at
  • In each round, the programme accepts only five nominations per university. The nomination has to be made by the university’s designated authority and it has to be accompanied by a nomination form completed by the designated authority. The nomination form is provided by the Future Professors Programme to the designated authority at your university.

We are looking for the following attributes in our fellows:

  • A deep commitment to the pursuit of advanced scholarship
  • Evidence of productive and imaginative scholarly work

  • Early signs of purpose and direction in academic work
  • Personal qualities of self-awareness, teachability and the need to grow
  • Evidence of resilience and persistence in the face of setbacks
  • A willingness to benefit from and contribute to a community of scholars

The following qualities further guide the selection of fellows:

  • Evidence of the quality of the nominee’s research
  • The quality and extent of teaching and supervision
  • Indications of academic leadership ability, including socially responsive activities


You need to prepare the following documentation for submission to your university’s designated authority: a curriculum vitae, a brief essay, and three referees.

  • Write an essay of 1,000 words in which you explain, with evidence, how you meet the attributes listed above. This submission should include a commitment to participate fully in the programme, if selected.

  • A curriculum vitae with the following information:

    • Name and date of birth
    • Contact details (work and cell phone) as well as preferred email address
    • Educational history (including the title of PhD thesis, the year it was awarded, the university that awarded the degree and the name/s of your supervisor/s).
    • Employment history (including the department where you currently serve and the name of your head of department)
    • Publication record (including papers submitted/accepted)
    • Research projects and funding you might have generated for your projects to date
    • Current teaching and supervisory responsibilities (distinguish undergraduate and postgraduate)
    • Google Scholar H-Index and Scopus H-Index, if pertinent (some fields in the humanities, for example, don’t make use of this metric)

  • Three referees who know you and your work well, preferably not all from your current institution.

Who may apply?


The FPP does not accept applications directly from individuals. Submit your application pack electronically no later than 31 July 2020 to the office of the designated authority of your university. You may contact us at for the name of your designated authority. Each university nominates five candidates and these nominations will be accompanied by an institutional support letter.

The FPP cannot respond to individual applicants on matters of selection and outcome but will direct inquiries in this regard to the designated authority.



  • Friday, 31 July 2020 – the closing date for your application to reach your university’s designated authority.

  • Friday, 7 August 2020 – the closing date for each academic institution’s nominations to reach the offices of the Future Professors Programme.


The FPP Selection Committee evaluates the nominations and make a shortlist recommendation to the FPP Advisory Board in October 2020. The approved shortlist is then submitted to the Department of Higher Education and Training. The outcomes will be communicated by the Department of Higher Education and Training to successful applicants, the Vice Chancellor of your university, and the designated authority.