Support Program for PhD students 2024

4th Edition of the Support Program for PhD Students

July – October 2024

North-West University


South Africa



This 4th edition of the Support Program for PhD Students is part of a cooperation between the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition (CEN) at the North-West University (NWU), Potchefstroom, South Africa, and the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Ghana (UoG), Accra, Ghana. The Support Program for PhD Students is financially supported by the Supporting Nutrition Research and Education in Africa (SuNREA project). The 4th edition is offered in a hybrid setup.



The aim of this Program is to provide complementary training in addition to the training that PhD students receive at their home institution. It will prepare and enable students to successfully navigate their PhD research at their home institutions and to make the most of it. This support Program is specifically designed for 1st year human nutrition/dietetics PhD students. It includes a number of core methodological modules that are indispensable for the successful completion of a PhD. Expertise gained during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd editions held in 2019, 2022, and 2023, with a total of 58 participants from 14 countries, including participant feedback, was used to improve the Program. By completing the Program, participants will significantly improve their skills in planning and executing research projects typically associated with PhD programs.

At the end of the Program, the participants would have developed a protocol that could be submitted to the candidate’s supervisor(s).



The target group is PhD candidates registered at an accredited African University and in the process of developing their protocols. These candidates should have a concept note and be ready to develop their protocol. Furthermore, the supervisors will play an essential role in the application process. 



The Program will focus on specific elements of the research process, from protocol writing to analysis and publication of the results. Some of the topics include the protocol writing process, research methodology, population and sampling, data capturing and analysis, presentation skills, and how to write a scientific article.

The Program comprises three parts:

  1. Application process - from February 2024
  2. Online/distance learning completion of modules - from 15 July 2024 onwards. The modules must be completed according to the weekly fixed schedule (with weekly virtual face-to-face sessions)
  3. 6-day full-time face-to-face meeting in Potchefstroom, South Africa – from 13 to 18 October 2024 (Active participation in the online sessions, completion of the assessments and submission of the protocol are prerequisites for admission to the on-campus part of the Program).


International and local experts will be used to teach in each of the components of the Program.



The on-campus part of the Program will be hosted at the Sports Village, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.



Participants will be accommodated at the Sports Village, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa ( Participants living in/nearby Potchefstroom may also arrange their own accommodation.



The course language will be English. It is expected of all applicants to be fluent in English.



PhD candidates must apply to participate in the Program by completing the application form. The application form will be available from the beginning of February 2024. If you are interested in applying for the Program, please send an email to from 1 February 2024 who will provide you with details of the application process.



The application form must be completed online (a link will be provided) no later than Sunday 12 April 2024. Please do not wait until the last day to complete the application since the process requires a research concept note and signed supporting documents from the supervisor(s) and home institution.



All applications will be subjected to a selection process to compete for the 15 positions available. Applicants will be informed about the outcome of the selection by 30 April 2024 latest. The decision of the selection committee will be final.



A limited number of grants are available for participants with the support of SuNREA, The Gioventú Foundation and others. These grants cover the tuition fee and the accommodation fee. All participants will have to purchase their own flight tickets to the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa or their local transportation to Potchefstroom. Participants must also carry any visa application costs. The accommodation fee covers transport between the airport in Johannesburg and Potchefstroom.

The Organisers will provide suggestions with names of international organisations that might be willing to assist in covering the costs.


The tuition fee is €1500.00. This tuition fee includes the following:

  • Access to the 10 week online modules (with weekly virtual face-to-face sessions) and printed material.
  • 6-day face-to-face meeting on campus in Potchefstroom.
  • Conference bag.

The date when the tuition fee is payable will be announced with the outcome of the selection process.



The accommodation fee is €750. This fee includes the following:

  • Transport to and from the Airport, as well as transport in Potchefstroom.
  • 7 night accommodation at the Sports Village (
  • All meals are included, as well as coffee breaks.

The date when the accommodation fee is payable will be announced with the outcome of the selection process.



For the face-to-face meeting on campus, participants must arrive on Sunday 13 October 2024 (before 13:00 SAST) and depart on Saturday 19 October 2024. The organisers will provide transport from O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa to Potchefstroom.

Transport will leave O.R. Tambo on 13 October 2024 at 10:00 and at 14:00. Transport will be available from Potchefstroom to O.R. Tambo on 19 October 2024 at 08:00 from the Sports Village. The travel time between OR Tambo International Airport and Potchefstroom is about 2 hours.

Funds for travelling must be secured before accepting a position after the selection process.

Please ensure that your insurance covers any disruptions due to travel restrictions.



After you have been admitted to the Program, a few practical matters need attention for the on-campus part of the Program.



Nationals from certain countries require a visa to enter South Africa, where the face-to-face meeting on campus will be held. You are responsible for getting your visa, these costs are not refunded. All participants will receive an invitation letter for this purpose. More information about visa and application procedures can be found on the website of the South African Department of Home Affairs or



Participants will be responsible for their own insurance. Please ensure that your insurance covers any disruptions due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.



The cancellation policy will be announced with the outcome of the selection process. The Organisers will use a 'reserve' list based on the applications to substitute a participant by another PhD candidate. Please note: Travelling cancellation due to COVID restrictions can not be used to claim travelling costs from the organisers. Please ensure that your insurance covers this.



Program Leader: Prof Robin Dolman-Macleod, CEN, South Africa

Project Management: Ms Claudine Jordaan, Dr Lizelle Zandberg, CEN, South Africa;

Dr Fré Pepping, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands; Dr Frank Hayford, UoG, Ghana

Financial Manager: Mrs Henriette Claassen, CEN, South Africa