Mandela Scholarship Fund

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

                                                                                         Nelson Mandela

For Whom

For Exchange and Study Abroad students from South Africa who would like to study at Leiden University for one semester. The scholarship will be awarded for a maximum of five months.


Applicants must be:

  • Permanent residents of South Africa;
  • Enrolled in at South African University;
  • Accepted for a semester programme at Leiden University as an Exchange student or Study Abroad student;
  • Motivated to upgrade or extend their knowledge in order to make a contribution towards the development of South Africa;
  • Committed to return to South Africa after their study period at Leiden University.

Scholarship Amount

The scholarship amount differs for Exchange students and Study Abroad students:

Exchange students

  • Living allowance: € 1000 per month (for a maximum of five months)

  • Insurance: will be sponsored by AON Student Insurance and arranged by the Scholarships Department of Leiden University. (to be confirmed)

Study Abroad Students

  • Tuition fee: the actual fee
  • Living allowance: € 1000 per month (for a maximum of five months)
  • Insurance: will be sponsored by AON Student Insurance and arranged by the Scholarships Department of Leiden University. (to be confirmed)

Application Procedure

The required application documents are:

  • Application form (in Word-Format) (including a letter of motivation);
  • Admission letter for a Study Abroad or Exchange programme at Leiden University;
  • Two original letters of recommendation (one of which should be from an academic staff member);
  • A transcript of academic records;
  • An up-to-date Curriculum vitae;
  • Photocopy of a valid passport and any other passports, if you have dual nationality;
  • Copy of the outcome of other scholarship/grant applications;
  • Proof that you can support yourself financially, since the Mandela Scholarship Fund is not sufficient to cover all expenses. Proof can be: 1) a letter that states that you receive a student grant and the exact amount and duration of this grant 2) a recent bank statement in your own name that shows that you have sufficient financial means to cover your expenses in The Netherlands 3) a notary statement declaring that your parents have sufficient financial means to support your study in The Netherlands.


  • 1 October 2017 for programs starting in February 2018

  • 1 April 2018 for programs starting in September 2018

Selection Process

The Student and Educational Affairs selection committee will review all applications. Students are selected on the basis of academic merit, motivation and prospects for future contribution towards the development of South Africa.

More information

For more information please send an e-mail to:






History of the Mandela Scholarship Fund

On March 12, 1999, his Excellency President Nelson Mandela of South Africa received an Honorary Doctorate from Leiden University, the Netherlands. To mark this memorable event, Leiden University founded the Mandela Scholarship Fund. 

On receiving the award the President Mandela stated that it brought him great not only great honour, but also great responsibility: “South Africans will in the coming years have to solve problems that you have faced before us. We have to build many new houses and schools, extend health care still further, and deal with crime and corruption. These challenges are even greater than those we have already overcome, and we will need all the strength that we have, and that of our friends. As much as anything, that is true also of South Africa's universities and the scientific work we are doing. A greater exchange of students will be enriching for both of our nations. On the one hand it will contribute to the development of our country and the rebirth of our continent. And on the other, we believe contact with the young people of my country will enrich and enlarge the insight that your youth has of your history and I dare say the multi-cultural character of your society."

Make your Contribution

We genuinely hope that all those who are committed to President Mandela’s goal to develop and enrich South Africa, will choose to support the Mandela Study Fund. Only with your financial support the Mandela Study Fund will be able to continue educating South African students at Leiden University. With your support you will make a direct contribution to the reconstruction and further development of South Africa.

Special Donations
If you would like to make a special donation or consider to leave the Mandela Study Fund a legacy, the Rector Magnificus of Leiden University will be very pleased to schedule an appointment with you to discuss the possibilities. Please contact Student and Educational Affairs for an appointment.

Make your contribution: All contributions to the Mandela Fund can be made by transferring your payment to IBAN: NL45 RABO 0161041264, in the name of Stichting Praesidium Libertatis Universiteit Leiden mentioning Mandela Study Fund.

Key sponsor

Leiden University Fund (LUF) is the key sponsor of the Mandela Scholarship Fund.

LUF was founded in 1890 and has since than been committed to maintain and improve the high quality of education offered by Leiden University. In this context, LUF finances various projects and grants for Leiden University's faculties and researchers. LUF for instance finances about twenty endowed chairs at Leiden University. Students can also request financials support for activities that add value to their studies, for example a study or research project abroad. Students can become student members or alumni member of LUF to stay involved with the network of Leiden University. More information can be foud on the website of LUF.

The Netherlands – South Africa Alumni Network (NESANET)

The Netherlands – South Africa Alumni Network (NESANET) is the network for South African students and midterm professionals that have followed part of their education in the Netherlands. NESANET is hosted by the Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria. Please visit the following facebook page if you would like to join.

Last Modified: 10-08-2017