Distinguished Professors

University of South Africa UNISA


The University of South Africa (UNISA) is proud to invite applications for the prestigious position of Distinguished Professor to resource and pivot its scientific, research and success agendas.

Note: This call is distinct from UNISA’s existing Distinguished Researcher Support Programme (DRSP). The call is open to all suitably qualified researchers from within South Africa and internationally.

Background and Purpose

UNISA is Comprehensive, Open Distance and e-Learning University, committed to the development of thriving research and innovation, engaged scholarship and teaching ecosystems. These find resonance through the provision of spaces, knowledge systems and cutting-edge scholarly interventions infused in all our core activities.

We wish to invite suitably qualified applicants, distinguished/ established/ and highly NRF rated (or equivalent) Professors/ Researchers/ Scholars who are leaders in their disciplines and with internationally recognised excellence to join Unisa in propelling academic excellence on a five-year fixed term performance-based contract. Successful candidates will find an institutional home in our College of Graduate Studies, a dedicated Research Excellence Optimization Hub.

In addition to contributing to the advancement of a vibrant research culture at UNISA, successful applicants will play a leadership role in optimizing Unisa’s strategically identified catalytic niche areas. We welcome applicants with strong track records of scholarship in these areas.

UNISA invests in the development of academic capacity and the growth of early career scholars and professionals. For this reason, we encourage candidates to identify prospective and suitably qualified postdoctoral fellows and include them as part of their applications.

UNISA offers very competitive remuneration to successful applicants, who will be appointed on a five-year fixed term contracts renewable subject to satisfactory performance. In addition, we offer resources support for the postdoctoral fellows who will be working with the Distinguished Professors. Funding is also offered for other approved research-related expenses.


Since these positions are targeted at scholarly leaders in their fields, applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are at an advanced stage of their academic careers. They may offer evidence of meeting this requirement in several ways, for instance, they may show that they have been full (tenured)professors or leaders at internationally recognized universities, research institutions or think tanks for at least 5 to 10 years.

1. Demonstrate capacity to foster vigorous research communities of practice that involve students and scholars at different levels of their careers. Evidence of meeting this requirement may be revealed by the applicants having served as editors of leading academic journals and having been principal investigators of larger research projects.
2. Demonstrate a commitment to the development of emerging/ early career academics/ professional and postgraduate students.
3. Have an exceptional track record of publishing their research in high impact journals and with prestigious publishers.
4. Proven research projects consisting of various team members.
5. Demonstrate the ability and willingness to add value to one of UNISA’s catalytic niche areas (a)Marine Studies, b) Aviation and Aeronautical studies, c) Automotive, d) Energy, e) Space studies and f) Square Kilometer Array, g) Fourth Industrial Revolution and Digitalisation, h) Natural Sciences [Biotechnological studies], Health Studies/Medicine, i) Feminist, Womanist, Bosadi Theorizations, and j) Student Support and Co-Curricular activities).
6. Applications must be accompanied by a clear and convincing five-year plan that explains how the requirements are met and how the expectations (as listed below) will be fulfilled.
7. Applications must be accompanied by a budget that lists all prospective research-related expenses for each year.

Expectations of Successful Applicants:

The CGS will provide supportive and collegial research, engaged scholarship and scholarship of teaching spaces where we accommodate some degree of flexibility in terms of how successful applicants meet these requirements. As scholarly leaders of exceptional quality and international standing, we recognize that successful applicants may bring their own innovative ideas for collaboration with UNISA to their tenures. It is recommended that successful candidates will:

• Play a leadership role in the development and maintenance of a rich and vibrant research environment at UNISA.
• Advance scholarly conversations in one (or more) of UNISA’s catalytic niche areas.
• Play a leadership role in optimizing the catalytic niche areas in different institutional spaces.
• Develop and submit research outputs with UNISA listed as sole or constitutional affiliation.
• Collaborate with Colleges/ academic departments to ensure that the research momentum that is gained within the Distinguished Professor’s project reaches other institutional spaces at UNISA.
• Lead research projects that involve several team members and students, thus contributing to the capacity development of early career/ emerging scholars.
• Provide mentoring for UNISA academics/ graduate students in terms of applying for research grants and other forms of third-stream income.

Completed applications can be emailed to:

1. Mr. Godwin Murerwa
Managing Partner
Skill Placement (Pty) Ltd
Tel: +27 78 111 9007 Email: godwin@skillplace.co.za
For enquiries related to academic issues and /or clarification about the scholarly elements of the call for applications:

2. Prof Jessica Murray
Professor. College of Graduate Studies
Tel: 012 429 6047 E-mail: murraj@unisa.ac.za