10 PhD Scholarships For Researchers From The South KU Leuven, Belgium

KU Leuven promoters can apply for a 4 year PhD project for a candidate from a developing country who wishes to obtain a doctorate at KU Leuven (“developing country” refers to a country on the OECD DAC-list from the categories “Least Developed Countries”, “Low Income Countries” of “Low Middle Income Countries”). To strengthen the embedding of the research within the concerned country, a co-promoter affiliated with a university or research institute also from a developing country must be involved as well and the local imbedding in the developing country of the candidate must be demonstrable clearly.
Note: for applications for which extensive fieldwork is foreseen/necessary, we refer to the Gobal Minds PhD scholarships Global Minds PhD Scholarships (sandwich formula).



The KU Leuven applicant and (optional) co-promoter meet the conditions to be a promoter or co-promoter of an Internal Funds project. The applicant will also be the promoter of the doctorate at KU Leuven.
The foreseen doctorate must meet the KU Leuven requirements for the attainment of a doctoral degree (see [urlhttps://admin.kuleuven.be/rd/doctoraatsreglement/en/frameworkregulation27062017(]regulation doctoral degrees) and guidelines joint doctoral degree). The following additional conditions apply:
  • There is a co-promoter in the concerned developing country. This co-promoter should have the necessary scientific expertise to supervise the project and is an authority in the field and the institute. This co-promoter should play an active role in the project, remotely or as host during short stays;
  • The research should be conducted at KU Leuven. Short stays or missions to the concerned developing country and/or other foreign stays are allowed, but they must be described in the original application. In case of approval of the application, these stays must be reported to the Research Coordination Office and must be in line with the original application;
  • The dissertation should be defended within the period of 4 years. The KU Leuven promoter must confirm that this is feasible and that they will do whatever is necessary in order to make sure the doctorate can be finished within the foreseen time period.
  • The PhD candidate must in principle still complete the whole doctoral trajectory. It is possible that the PhD candidate has already started a predoc or a doctorate at KU Leuven, but no longer than 8 months (incl. the predoctoral period) on the deadline date of this call;
  • The PhD candidate has not applied for a Global Mind PhD Scholarship for the same doctoral project;


Each year a maximum of 10 ‘PhD scholarships for researchers from the South’ can be funded at KU Leuven.

 the doctoral scholarships have a duration of maximum 4 years. The mandate starts on October 1st of the year of the approval (other starting dates are possible on request). In case the PhD student has obtained a doctoral scholarship at KU Leuven before, that period will be subtracted from the 4 year period.
Financial conditions: an approval contains a doctoral scholarship at KU Leuven for 4 years, a predoctoral period of max. 12 months (if the doctoral committee advises to do so) and a one-off reimbursement of travel costs from the home country of the PhD student to Belgium at the start of the doctorate (max. €1000 and based on proof of expenditure). The PhD student is exempt from the tuition fee at KU Leuven. In case a predoctoral period is imposed and the predoc is not successful, the involved candidate can also claim reimbursement of travel costs for the return trip to the home country (max. €1000 and based on proof of expenditure).


In order to be able to apply for a ‘PhD scholarship for researchers from the South’, an authorization to enroll as a doctoral student at KU Leuven must be attained. We strongly recommend to start this procedure at least 2,5 months before the deadline date in the next bullet, via Admissions (procedures started after 1 January, 2020, might not be finalized in time!).
The deadline date is March 12th, 2020 at 5 p.m. There is a digital application form (available as soon as possible). In this form you will find further specifications (about the number of pages, language, attachments, and so on).
The selection will go through 2 phases:
  • All applications are evaluated by the Research Council (or its Bureau) based on the academic quality of both the candidate and the research proposal, as well as the quality and relevancy of the scientific track record of the promoter and co-promoter(s).  The Research Council will ask for a written advice for each application from the doctoral committee. This advice concerns the need for a predoctoral programme for the specific PhD candidate.
  • Only the applications that were evaluated positively by the Research Council (or its Bureau) are then transferred to the IRO Selection Committee, which will evaluate the relevance in a developmental context and the potential impact, and will assess the local embedding and the potential to increase local capacity.
The evaluation by the Research Council (or its Bureau) and the IRO Selection Committee will take place in May and June 2019.
The final advice will be submitted for confirmation to the KU Leuven Executive Board and the Academic Council.


The application must mainly contain the following elements (see digital application form for further specifications):
  • Authorization from the doctoral committee to enroll as a PhD researcher. (this authorization is requested via Admissions and is strictly academic. It does not guarantee the funding of a PhD scholarship!)
  • An identification of the KU Leuven promoter and (optional) co-promoter with their CV and a description of the supervision of the PhD student;
  • An identification of the co-promoter at the university or research institute in a developing country with CV and a description of the supervision of the PhD student;
  • The project description and work plan of the doctoral project, demonstrating the academic strength of the proposal, as well as the relevance in a developmental context and the potential impact, and the local embedding and the potential to increase the local capacity. In the work plan, any planned foreign stays must explicitly be described (max. 5p);
  • The curriculum vitae of the candidate, including a motivation about the stay at the KU Leuven research group and its relevance for the home country of the candidate (max. 3p);
  • A detailed description of the collaboration and the supervision of the doctorate (max. 1p);
  • A motivation letter from the KU Leuven promoter containing (a) a clarification of the scientific added value of the project, (b) the relevance for the development of the country concerned, (c) a description of the aimed for (or current) collaboration with the foreign co-promoter, and (d) a formal confirmation to fulfill the supervising and logistic task in order to enable the completion of the doctorate within the foreseen time period.


The following selection criteria will be used by the Research Council (or its Bureau):
  • Mainly the scientific quality of the doctoral project and the research competency of the candidate;
  • The scientific quality of all the (co-)promoters;
  • The quality of the planned supervision of the doctorate.

The following selection criteria will be used by the IRO Selection Committee:

  • The importance of the described developmental problem in relation to its local context on which the research will have impact;
  • The added value of the proposal for the solution or better understanding of the developmental problem that is the subject of the research;
  • The local embedding in the developing country: the efficiency and sustainability of the project.


International Office is prepared to communicate the advice of the Research Council (or its Bureau) and the IRO Selection Committee, pending the ratification by the Executive Board and the Academic Council. The applicants will receive the decision in writing as quickly as possible after the official decision. A negative decision is always motivated.


In case the doctorate has not been defended atthe end of the 4 year project, the promoter submits a report with a plan ofaction to complete the doctorate as soon as possible.

In case the doctorate is completed within the 4year project, it is sufficient to notify DOC about the defense, mentioning thedefense date.


Thursday, March 12 2020


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