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One of the objectives set out in the NDP is to increase the percentage of PhD-qualified scholars in the higher education section. The NIHSS collaborates with the South African Humanities Deans' Association (SAHUDA) to extend 150 scholarships per year to full-time PhD students based at South African universities.

The main objective of this programme is to promote scholarship and address inequities in the humanities and social sciences. To ensure that successful applicants are provided with structured intellectual and mentorship support, the NIHSS' SAHUDA cooperation has created an ambitious national doctoral programme for the humanities and social sciences. The NIHSS Strategic Plan for 2015-2020 sets a target of 900 South African students participating in Doctoral Schools by 2020.

The NIHSS Doctoral Schools and Scholarships Programme thus serves to advance postgraduate scholarship through a range of innovations, including:

  • Providing scholarships for postgraduate students studying in the humanities and social sciences;
  • Strengthening a student-centred culture in the higher education system and helping to create an environment where the critical, analytical and normative capacities of students are enhanced;
  • Ensuring collaborative supervision of doctoral students by two or more universities, which could include South African universities collaborating with universities outside the borders of South Africa; and
  • Addressing inequities regarding the demographic composition of PhD holders.

To fulfil these objectives, the NIHSS collaborates annually with the South African Humanities Deans Association (SAHUDA) to extend scholarships to full-time PhD students based at the following participating South African universities: Cape Peninsula University of Technology; Durban University of Technology; Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; North West University; Rhodes University; Stellenbosch University; Tshwane University of Technology; University of Cape Town; University of Fort Hare; University of the Free State; University of Johannesburg; University of KwaZulu-Natal; University of Limpopo; University of Pretoria; University of South Africa; University of the Western Cape; University of the Witwatersrand; University of Venda; University of Zululand; Vaal University of Technology; and  Walter Sisulu University.