Home > Projects > Unbundling education > Application for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Application for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Call for application for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to participate in research on an ESRC-NRF Higher Education project under the theme ‘Organisation of HE systems, HEIs and alternative providers’ to explore the process of institutional change, focusing on the emerging business models, new educational technologies and innovative forms of educational provision.

The project is a joint project with teams located at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and the University of Leeds, UK. The project is based at the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town and seeks to critically investigate: What opportunities do unbundling and new provision models offer for addressing South Africa and England Higher Education challenges?

The main research question is: How are unbundling and marketization changing the nature of higher education provision in South Africa and England, and what impact will this have on widening access, educational achievement, employability and the potential for economic development?

The nature of Higher Education is rapidly evolving globally as well as in South Africa. Educational technologies, public-private partnerships and shifting employer expectations are resulting in rapid and unprecedented unbundling and marketization of Higher Education. For example, the past few years have seen the appearance of many flexible online courses and qualifications, short courses and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Whilst these changes may offer opportunities for increased numbers of learners to access education and thus contribute to economic prosperity, there is very little empirical research about the process and impact of unbundling, or the marketization of Higher Education in Africa, or developed countries, nor whether and how these are addressing social and educational inequality issues. This project focuses on new models which are being developed and on how these new opportunities are being approached and configured by universities and private providers in South Africa and England, with a particular focus on whether and how they can support the development of the HE sector.

The project is almost at its half way mark, and seeks a post-doctoral fellow to join the University of Cape Town team for eighteen months starting in January 2018. The website at provides further details of the project. 

The successful candidate will be involved in data collection and will focus strongly on analysis and on writing.  S/he will be involved in the organisation of events and project co-ordination and will assist the Principal Investigator as needed. 


  • Applicants must have achieved their doctoral degree within the past 5 years.
  • Applicants may not previously have held full‐time permanent professional or academic posts
  • The successful incumbent will be required to comply with the University’s approved policies, procedures and practices for the postdoctoral sector.
  • Fellowship recipients are entitled to take on part‐time employment for a maximum of 12 hours a week outside the research project.

Value and Tenure:

  • The value of the NRF –funded Fellowship is R200 000 per annum and the fellowship is tenable for one year renewable for a further six months subject to satisfactory academic progress.
  • The fellowship is compliant with the SARS policies /rules and is therefore exempt from taxation.

Academic Criteria


  • A PhD in a relevant field of study, for example Sociology, Economics, Politics, Education, History, Psychology or a cognate discipline.
  • You would be considered if you will graduate within six months of starting the Fellowship.

Suitable candidates will have:

  • Demonstrable interest in current academic research and policy issues relating to the themes of the project, the changing nature of Higher Education, international development and /or educational technologies
  • Proven experience writing, with excellent writing skills
  • Successfully conducted qualitative research in the field.
  • Carried out advanced research including a literature review, conducting desk research and semi-structured interviews and data collection.
  • Familiarity with quantitative information.
  • Ability to collaborate as part of a team including with colleagues from a wide range of academic institutions and non‐academic partner organisations.
  • A proven ability to work effectively, responsibly and independently, and to work under pressure.
  • Excellent organisational ability, including the ability to manage time effectively and to prioritise tasks.
  • Highly‐developed computer skills and competence in online research tools. Competence with NVivo is desirable

The position starts on 1st January 2018.

To apply please e‐mail the following to Cindy Gilbert at by 25 October 2017, clearly indicating “Postdoctoral Fellowship application” in the subject line:

  • A letter of application including your area of expertise, research interests and experience, in general and described particularly in relation to the research project and its requirements.
  • CV including list of publications / scholarly outputs
  • Copies of academic transcripts
  • Names and contact details of at least two academics who have taught, supervised or worked alongside you.

Eligible and complete applications will be considered by the Principal Investigator and a sub‐committee

The University of Cape Town reserves the right to:

  • Disqualify ineligible, incomplete and / or inappropriate applications;
  • Change the conditions of award or to make no awards at all.