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For Alumni: The Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarship

NOTE: This special scholarship is only open to Alumni of the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship. To apply for the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship itself, please go here.

Background to the Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarship

The central purpose of The Mandela Rhodes Foundation is to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa (whilst also seeking to foster better reconciliation and entrepreneurship). The Mandela Rhodes programmes will develop leadership and vocational capacity across African society, to help the continent achieve success and prosperity and full equal participation in the global world.

Beyond the flagship Scholarships Programme, the MRF sees huge potential value in partnering with like-minded organisations to enhance its purpose and impact. In 2016, the Foundation leveraged the opportunity to partner with the Leverhulme Trust to create the Leverhulme Mandela Rhodes Doctoral Scholarships (LMRDS). This offering is only available to Alumni of the MRF, making it a very compelling supplementary offering to the Mandela Rhodes experience.

The aim of the LMRDS is to increase the impact and effectiveness of Mandela Rhodes Alumni who wish to pursue PhD studies outside the African continent, by connecting them to financial support for doctoral study in the United Kingdom. We believe that this partnership is aligned with our vision to increase leadership and vocational capacity.

The LMRDS increases vocational capacity by:

  1. Supporting Alumni to further specialise in their chosen disciplines through doctoral study.
  2. Enabling Alumni to access some of the best supervisors and research facilities in those disciplines, which may not necessarily be available in their home countries.

The LMRDS increases leadership capacity by:

  1. Supporting Alumni who have clearly identified and articulated the next phase of their leadership journey and feel that doctoral studies will support that intent.
  2. Increasing Alumni access to international networks of academic and vocational influence via strategic positioning at UK universities.

Selection criteria

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation acknowledges and supports the Leverhulme Trust’s approach to grant giving, which is to use established criteria as a baseline, and from there select on the basis of congruence with the Trust’s values and aims. The primary baseline criteria for PHD research proposals are: originality, importance, significance, and merit. The secondary criteria for the LMRDS are designed to meet the aims of the MRF outlined above. Applicants should motivate for the scholarship on the basis of the following criteria:

  1. Their research. The research proposal should have a demonstrable potential social impact, that will contribute to the betterment of Africa. The research should meet the criterial of originality, importance, significance and merit.
  2. Their research institution of choice. The applicant should motivate for why it is necessary for this research to be conducted at a UK institution of their choice, making specific mention of potential supervisor they have identified, or research units they intend to join. The applicant should be able to articulate how this positioning will advance them in their career, beyond the completion of the doctoral thesis.
  3. Their leadership capacity and potential. The applicant should demonstrate how the MRF values have been threaded through their journey since their time in residence to the present moment, through their academic and non-academic pursuits. They should be able to motivate for why they believe the LMDRS for doctoral study in the UK is an essential next part of their leadership journey.

How to apply

Applications for the LMRDS will open on the 13th of March and run until the 10th of April. Mandela Rhodes Alumni who wish to apply to be recommended for the LMRDS should contact Julia Brown ([email protected]) to request an application form.

  • All application forms are to be submitted directly to Julia Brown, via email.
  • Once applications close on the 10th of April, designated Mandela Rhodes Foundation staff will review the applications.
  • Candidates will be contacted by the 18th of April and informed on whether or not they have been shortlisted for interviews.
  • Panel interviews will take place in person in Cape Town in the week of the 6th of May.
  • Candidates will be informed whether their application for the LMRDS has been successful by mid-May.
  • The successful candidates will be recommended to the Leverhulme Trust by mid-May.

Frequently asked questions

Is the funding comprehensive?  Yes, the LMRDS covers your tuition and provides a stipend for your living costs.
Is there support for my partner and family to accompany me? No. The LMRDS provides an individual stipend. Your family’s travel, accommodation, and visa will be your responsibility.
Does MRF administer the LMRDS? No, once you have been recommended to the Leverhulme Trust, they will administer the scholarship.
Will there be support for me with the UK Visa process? You will need to manage your own application process for your UK university, and the accompanying Tier 4 visa process. Your university will have to provide a Confirmation of Acceptance letter, and the Leverhulme Trust will provide a confirmation letter of your funding.

If you have further queries, please contact Communications and Alumni Manager Abigail McDougall ([email protected]).


For reference: the Leverhulme Trust’s approach to grant-making.

In assessing applications for funding, the Leverhulme Trust uses the following established criteria to prioritise work of outstanding scholarship:

  • Originality – the research achieves more than the incremental development of a single discipline
  • Importance – the work will enable further research or enquiry
  • Significance – the proposed research has relevance outside a single field, and is able to excite those working in other disciplines
  • Merit – the quality of the research design and methodology, and the suitability of the researchers and institution for the realisation of the proposed research objectives

Secondary criteria

A second set of criteria reflect the particular values of the Leverhulme Trust, and express the Trust Board’s aspiration that our funding maintains a distinctive role within the research funding landscape. We particularly welcome applications that:

  • reflect an individual’s personal vision, aspiration, or intellectual curiosity
  • take appropriate risks in setting and pursuing research objectives
  • enable a refreshing departure from established patterns of working – either for the individual, or for the discipline
  • transcend disciplinary boundaries.