The ERP is for early career academics or those who have not yet established themselves as researchers. It includes a wide range of professional development seminars and workshops which are open to all staff, as well as research development grants for eligible early career staff. (The grants are dependent on funding and limited to staff who meet certain criteria, which include being on academic conditions of service, and being an active participant in the researcher development initiatives of the Research Office).

In the ERP, early career academics are helped to plan their research careers so that they can achieve the various milestones necessary to advance in a research intensive university – a doctoral degree, accredited (subsidy-earning) research outputs (such as articles, books, patents, creative productions), successful grant proposals, postgraduate supervision, and NRF rating.

Retired or current professors with excellent research and supervision experience are engaged to offer seminars on a wide range of topics such as:

  • research planning
  • academic publishing
  • measuring research impact
  • optimising conference attendance
  • sabbatical planning
  • research ethics
  • effective presentation posters
  • preparing a CV
  • managing online presence
  • library resources  
  • plagiarism
  • reviewing a publication
  • examining a thesis
  • ad hominem promotion criteria
  • grant proposal writing.

The ERP also offers workshops on postgraduate supervision, grant proposal writing and conference presentations. Writing retreats are organised at the request of departments or research groups.

Find the 2024 programme here (downloadable PDF) and register for the training sessions by contacting Nocky Bobo.

How much support is offered?

The amount and type of support depends on an individual’s needs. Some need only the minimum required to join the programme – a personal introductory and planning interview. Others take full advantage of the ERP’s suite of offerings over a number of years. Once they have achieved an NRF rating or have been promoted to associate professor they have officially ‘emerged’ from the programme and no longer qualify for ERP funding.

Success of the ERP

The success of the ERP is evident in its growth. It began in 2003 with 45 academics. By the end of 2021, it had provided various levels of support to over 1050 academics. About two thirds of the ad hominem promotions each year are staff who have participated in the ERP at some stage of their UCT careers.

Growth of the ERP by faculty: 2003 to 2021

Growth of the ERP


Where does funding come from?

This success would not have been possible without the generous support of national and international funders, in addition to UCT itself through the University Research Committee and the Vice Chancellor’s Strategic Fund. Between 2002 and 2021, the programmes have benefited from a research development grant from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Previous funders include: Atlantic Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Many of the early career researchers on the ERP also benefit from Thuthuka funding from the NRF.


For more information about our researcher development programmes please contact Nocky Bobo.