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The Netherlands Fellowship Programmes (NFP) for PhD studies

The Netherlands Fellowship Programmes (NFP) for PhD studies can be followed at 21 Dutch universities and institutes for international education.

  • The PhD must be pursued according to a ‘sandwich’ or ‘picnic’ model, which means that at least a quarter of the PhD research will take place in the candidate’s home country;
  • The maximum duration of a PhD fellowship is four years;
  • The maximum NFP budget available for a PhD study is € 85,000. This amount is intended as a contribution towards the cost of living and to cover the costs of visas, travel, insurance, tuitionfee, thesis costs and so on, as specified in the NFP Rules and regulations for fellowship holders, which can be downloaded at http://www.nuffic.nl/nfp. PhD students are allowed to seek alternative sources of funding.
  • Eligibility
  • A candidate applying for an NFP fellowship for a PhD degree programme must:
  • be a mid-career professional with at least three years’ relevant work experience;
  • be a national of, and working and living in one of the developing countries on the NFP country list valid at the time of application;
  • be nominated by his or her employer, who pledges to continue paying the candidate’s salary and guarantees the candidate will be able to return to an equivalent position after the termination of the fellowship period8;
  • be unconditionally admitted to a Dutch institution as a PhD student. This means that the candidate must have met all the academic requirements set by the Dutch university or institution;
  • not already have received an NFP PhD fellowship;
  • not be employed by:
    • a multinational corporation (for instance Shell, Unilever etc.) or
    • a large national and/-or commercial organisation or
    • a bilateral donor organisation (for instance USAID, DFID, Danida, Sida, FinAid, AusAid, ADC, SwissAid etc.) or
    • a multilateral donor organisation, (for instance a UN organisation, the World Bank, the IMF, Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, IADB, etc.) or
    • an international NGO (for instance Oxfam, Plan, Care, etc.)
  • have completed and submitted an NFP PhD fellowship application with all the required documentation before the NFP fellowship application deadline;
  • be employed in an area to which the study will make a relevant contribution;
  • – have a clear-cut, functional relationship with a relevant organisation and be in a position to introduce the newly acquired skills and knowledge into that organisation;
  • be available full-time to pursue the PhD without interruption, and be physically and mentally able to take part in the entire programme;
  • endorse the objective and the aim of the NFP. The aim of the NFP cannot be reached if the fellowship holder does not return to his or her own country. Nuffic would like to urge fellowship holders to return to their home country upon finishing the course or programme to meet the NFP aim in the most effective way.

Fellowship application procedure
As stated above, to be eligible for an NFP fellowship, candidates need to be admitted as a PhD student by one of the Dutch institutions.

Obtaining admission as a PhD student
Candidates first apply for admission directly to the Dutch institution of their choice. Admission requests must always be directed to the Dutch institution. Senior academic staff or a specific PhD committee decides if an candidate will be accepted. Usually, the admission decision is based on the research proposal submitted by the candidate.

The Dutch institution assesses the application and decides whether or not to admit the candidate as a PhD student. Candidates will receive a letter informing them if they have been admitted. Nuffic has no part in the academic admission process. A candidate applying for an NFP fellowship must have been unconditionally admitted to a Dutch institution for the course or programme for which the candidate applies for an NFP fellowship. This means that the candidate must have met all the academic and administrative requirements set by the Dutch institution.

Candidates are strongly advised to apply as early as possible for admission to the Dutch institution because these institutions need enough time to process all the applications for admission in time.

Academic admission deadline
The academic admission process for a PhD study is an individual track. Candidates who wish to be admitted as a PhD student have to check with the Dutch institution if an academic admission deadline applies.

Applying for an NFP fellowship
A candidate can apply for a PhD fellowship only after a research proposal has been agreed between the candidate and the Dutch institution. Candidates can only apply for a fellowship for one PhD study per fellowship application deadline. Being admitted to more than one PhD study with the same fellowship application deadline means that candidates can only apply for a fellowship for one of the PhD studies.

Applications have to be submitted through Scholarships Online (SOL). Through SOL candidates can apply for fellowships online and they can check the status of an application. Other parties such as the Dutch institutions, the embassies and consulates will use SOL to assess NFP fellowship applications.

SOL can be accessed through www.nuffic.nl/nfp. This page contains more instructions about applying online.

What does an NFP PhD fellowship application consist of?

  • a completed online NFP fellowship application submitted via SOL9;
  • an employer’s statement nominating the candidate for an NFP fellowship;
  • a copy of a valid official identity document;
  • a Statement of Government Authority (if applicable10);
  • a motivation on why you wish to pursue this PhD study;
  • a motivation on the relevance for your organisation (how will your organisation benefit from the research you wish to conduct?);
  • a motivation on the relevance for your country (how will your country benefit from the research you wish to conduct?);
  • a plan of action (how will you put your new skills and knowledge to work when you return to your employing organisation?).

For more information and formats of the requested documents visit http://www.nuffic.nl/nfp.

Fellowship application deadline
Two fellowship application deadlines have been introduced for submitting PhD fellowship applications.

Applications for fellowships for PhD studies starting in the academic year 2012-2013 must be submitted before the following fellowship application deadlines: 7 February 2012 & 2 October 2012

The deadlines for paper fellowship applications are always one month before the online application deadline. The paper fellowship application deadlines are: 1 January 2012 and 1 September 2012.

Fellowship applications or additional documents received after the fellowship application deadline are not considered.

What happens after an application is submitted?
The Dutch institution will indicate in Scholarships Online if the candidate has been admitted. Each application will be assessed against the eligibility criteria listed above and, if formulated, against the country-specific priorities.

Selection procedure
Nuffic selects the candidates who will receive PhD fellowships based on the relevance of the proposed research for the candidate’s employing organisation and home country. Nuffic gives priority to applications which:

  • propose that the PhD study be co-supervised by an institution in a developing country;
  • have a proven link with other activities that are financed by the NFP or other Dutch government-funded activities;
  • are submitted by female candidates;
  • are submitted by candidates from Sub-Saharan Africa;

Finally, Nuffic awards the grant to the Dutch institution to cover the fellowship holders’ costs, including the tuition fees. The Dutch institutions will make the logistical arrangements and pay the fellowship holder a monthly allowance for the duration of the PhD study. The Dutch institution also administers the fellowships and gives guidance to the fellowship holders.

The selection procedure has a very strict time frame. Between 10 to 16 weeks after the fellowship application deadline candidates have to respond to an availability request. Indicating availability means that if selected the candidate is still available for an NFP fellowship. The candidate needs to respond within 7 days after the request has been sent.

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