The NIHSS National Mentorship Programme is a first, and serves as a best practice in academic circles.
The NMP is constituted from a partnership between the NIHSS, SAHUDA and CODESRIA (Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa). The programme aims to provide high quality academic mentoring to all NIHSS doctoral students through targeted interventions offering a communal-based approach to doctoral support. Mentors are broadly tasked with coordinating Doctoral Schools and providing mentorship and development to NIHSS-funded students. Mentors also play a critical role in facilitating the development of relevant research skills and encouraging cross institutional and inter-disciplinary conversations among doctoral students. These mentors' contributions play a significant role in providing enhanced doctoral study support within an increasingly strained postgraduate system.
The NMP is a key component of the Doctoral Schools and Scholarships Programme. The NIHSS runs six virtual Doctoral Schools, which are organised along regional lines: Eastern Cape; KwaZulu-Natal; Northern Corridor; Free State and UNISA; Western Cape; and Gauteng. Each region has several universities, which must collaborate to support the NIHSS doctoral candidates. Mentors are allocated the task of organising regional capacity-building initiatives to support candidates based in specific regions. These mentors are crucial to the smooth running of the NMP. The NIHSS has 23 mentors based at different universities across South Africa.