Absa Fellowship FAQ's

We have a vested, long-term interest in supporting development in Africa. As a financial services provider, we play an integral role in the economic life of individuals, businesses and nations through helping to create, grow and protect wealth, while playing a shaping role in Africa’s growth and sustainability. Our strategic thinking has a purposeful intent: to create intergenerational value by contributing meaningfully to the societies in which we operate. As an active force for good in everything that we do, education and skills development is one of our signature social actions.

Our priority is to put the basic building blocks in place to ensure that young African leaders can reimagine their futures and empower their tomorrow. Through the Absa Fellowship Programme, they will emerge as private and public sector leaders in their chosen industries, being able to actively shape their societies, promote sustainability and build a better world for future generations..

The future of our continent lies in the hands of young, brave and passionate leaders that are ready to rise. The Absa Fellowship Programme was therefore designed to shape the future generation of authentic, accountable and ethical future leaders that will re-imagine, re-frame and reshape society.

But to get there, they need more than education, they also require critical work, life, business and thinking skills to help them adapt to this rapidly changing world. Our education and skills development initiatives are therefore focused on preparing young people for the workplace of the future.

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other emerging technologies are happening in ever-shorter cycles, changing the very nature of the jobs that need to be done and the skills needed to do them. The Absa Fellowship Programme therefore focuses on supporting students studying towards an undergraduate degree in the following fields: Science, Technology, Engineering, Creative Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Digital Design/Data (STEAHM_D) – all considered critical skills for the growth of a digital economy.

The Absa Fellowship offers a full merit programme, recognising the unique leadership capabilities and competencies exhibited by the successful candidates. In addition to financial support towards their academic studies, Absa Fellows benefit from exposure to a specially curated Leadership Development Programme that includes emotional wellness support and academic tutoring.

The Absa Fellowship Programme aims to develop and equip the Fellowship recipient with the critical competency skillset that future leaders will require to achieve institutional and transformational impact, both in business, communities, countries and the African continent.

The overall Leadership Development Programme will ensure that, on completion, the Absa Fellow will not only have an academic degree, but also a pivotal network of peers. They will have built an understanding of their authentic selves, developed a deep sense of community citizenship and a deep sense of their own creativity, as well as the capacity to effect the changes that they desire, with an understanding of the African context and the possibilities therein.

Our programme is thus curated to develop the following skillset over the duration of their studies:

  • Innovation, systems thinking, change and adaptability
  • An afro-centric global mindset
  • A project and digital mindset
  • Multi-sectoral communication and a collaborative orientation
  • Commercial acumen
  • Personal mastery, future-focus and people development skills
  • An environmental consciousness.

  • The applicant must be between the age of 18 and 25 years
  • The applicant must have attained a minimum average of 65% in grade 12 (or equivalent qualifications from TVET college/A Levels/Sixth Form)
  • Provisional or final acceptance from one of the public universities in South Africa.

University of Johannesburg University of KwaZulu-Natal Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
University of the Witwatersrand University of Zululand University of Fort Hare
Vaal University of Technology Mangosuthu University of Technology Rhodes University
University of Pretoria Durban University of Technology Walter Sisulu University
Tshwane University of Technology University of Cape Town University of Free State
Sefako Makgatho Health & Sciences University University of the Western Cape Central University of Technology
University of Limpopo Cape Peninsula University of Technology Sol Plaatje University
.University of Venda Stellenbosch University North-West University
University of Mpumalanga University of South Africa

    • The applicant must be studying towards one of the following undergraduate degrees, preselected by Absa (see list in Table A)
    • A fully completed application form supported by all the required documents
    • Completed online psychometric assessments facilitated by our external service provider
    • Participation in a presentation and short video preparation on topic provided to candidate that will be evaluated and scored by a panel of Absa Senior Management.

    Additional information that will be required:
    • Confirmation of combined household income
    • Confirmation of citizenship
    • Disability, if applicable, supported by the appropriate medical proof/certificate
    • Race (only applicable to South African citizens)
    • Gender
    • ID document to confirm age (applicant needs to be between the age of 18 to 25 years old to apply)
    • Confirmation of any existing student medical or private medical aid (South African citizens only)
    In the case of international students from Mauritius, Seychelles, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda or Ghana, the following additional information will be required:
      o Proof of student visa or student visa application confirmation
      o International student medical aid cover
      o Matriculation board qualification verification
      o Offer or acceptance letter from the applicable university.

The programme provides funding to students to study on a full-time basis at the previously mentioned public universities in South Africa (see point 4 – What is the minimum criteria for the Absa Fellowship Programme?).

The Absa Fellowship covers the academic and leadership programme cost. The academic cost will include full tuition, meals, university/university-approved accommodation, laptop, books, education equipment, monthly data and stipend as well as student medical aid cover where required. The leadership programme cost will include online masterclasses, assessments, learner modules and guides, access to emotional wellness check-in sessions, academic tutoring as well as mentoring by Absa leadership and industry experts.

Once awarded:

    • The monthly stipend will be paid into the Absa Fellow’s Absa Transactional Account.
    • Annual text book, educational equipment and stationary allowance will be paid into the Absa Fellow’s Absa Transactional Account.
    • A voucher for a laptop will be issued or, if purchased by the Fellow, a refund to the maximum amount allocated under the Fellowship Programme.
    • The monthly data allowance will be paid into the Absa Fellow’s Absa Transactional Account.
    • The university tuition, accommodation and meal quota fees will be paid directly to the University.
    • In the case of private (university-approved) accommodation, the landlord will monthly be paid directly, on submission of the contract and invoice from the landlord.
    • Monthly Wi-Fi allowance, if included in rent agreement with the landlord or provided by the landlord’s service provider.
    • Where meals are not included in the contract with the landlord, for university accommodation or for students staying with their parents, a monthly meal allowance will be paid into the Absa Transactional Account together with the stipend and data allowances.
    • Monthly (or annually upfront) medical aid contribution for Absa Fellows on a student medical aid (such as Momentum or MediHelp’s Student Medical Aid) – only applicable if medical aid is a student medical aid and in the Fellow’s name.
    • Access to the iCas Emotional Wellness Coaching Support Programme
    • For international students from previously listed countries, the following will be refunded:
    - One return air ticket cost annually
    - Student visa application cost
    - Annual prepaid international student medical aid cost.

The programme only covers preselected undergraduate degrees at NQF Level 7 from the public universities in South Africa(listed under point 4) in the study fields of science, technology, engineering, art (creative and fine arts), maths, humanities (social sciences) and digital design/data.

Studies towards any other undergraduate degrees from public universities, private higher education institutions (universities) as well as TVET colleges are excluded from this programme.

Yes, recipients who are awarded the Fellowship will also have to participate in the compulsory leadership development and support programmes implemented as part of the programme.

What the student can expect from this programme, which aims at developing future African leaders to co-sense and co-create an emerging future filled with possibilities:

    ✓ A defined personal leadership vision and the proactive ability to create value for themselves and others.
    ✓ A deep sense of how to be of service to the communities in which they live and work.
    ✓ A broader insight and new perspective of the African context.
    ✓ An optimistic ability to be future-focused and think more creatively about solutions to African challenges through responsiveness and the ability to predict African challenges and the possibilities that they pose.
    ✓ The capacity to develop and contribute to a network of high-performing, young individuals.
    ✓ Developing a multi-level view of how communities are an interconnected system.
    ✓ Understanding at a global, regional and country level where we come from, our current context and how this informs our future views.
    ✓ Learning and developing a critical mind- and skillset that is future-focused and drives intellectual, institutional, and social transformation.
    ✓ Becoming aspirant and inspirational and evoking a feeling of prestige catalysed by authentic ambassadorship.
    ✓ Being equipped to drive exponential impact for individuals, communities, countries and ultimately the continent.
    ✓ Ability to apply entrepreneurial thinking in workplace, community as the setting up and running of own business.
In addition, the Absa Fellow will have access to emotional wellness check-in sessions, academic tutoring and programme mentoring.

Academic tutoring
In peer academic tutoring, individuals from similar academic field networks assist each other in their learning from another with a greater knowledge, ability and skill in a particular subject, or transferring their greater knowledge, ability and skill in a particular subject to another.

This method will assist in meeting both multifaceted social and study needs and aims to prevent potential academic struggles and increase overall academic performance by laying a solid foundation towards your studies.

Academic tutoring will be supported by workshops with a specific focus on time management, exam preparation and understanding how you memorise information. The workshops will be followed up with revision sessions to ensure that you have grasped the concepts and to engage with your peers by sharing best practices.

Wellness peer-to-peer mentoring
The wellness support mentoring sessions will give you access to someone who can give you some insight into what they experienced when they first got to campus, and they can assist and guide you through the initial phases of settling into life as a student.

The wellness support will also aim at enhancing self-esteem and self-efficacy as well as improving life skills, coping strategies and your problem-solving skills.

The Absa Fellowship Committee provides guidance, oversight and governance of the Fellowship Programme through the dedicated Education Delivery team. It is a cross-functional committee made up of senior Absa Management Representatives and representatives from external education specialist service providers. This helps to ensure that the execution of Absa Fellowship Programme related decisions made by the committee are fair, transparent and unbiased.

The Absa Corporate Citizenship team and Absa Fellowship Forum are responsible for:

    • Development of the Absa Fellowship application process up to the contracting stage
    • Oversight of the Fellowship criteria
    • Oversight of the adjudication/selection process and its governing principles
    • Final recipient selection in line with the adjudication/selection process
    • General oversight of the Absa Fellowship Programme and relevant governing decisions, such as decisions related to the termination or continuation of the Fellowship in line with progress reports submitted for each successful recipient at the end of every semester, decisions around appeals and any changes to the fellowship criteria.
    • Development of the Absa Fellowship Leadership Programme and management of the implementation thereof
    • Acquiring service providers required to assist in delivering the Fellowship Programme

Absa Fellows will be recruited based on academic merit, field of study, assessed skills and competency and not on personal bias or prejudice. They will be given a fair chance to contribute and achieve their potential over the duration of their undergraduate studies.

The successful candidates for the Fellowship will be selected from a shortlist compiled using the minimum criteria required, including the final score from online assessments and panel interviews as guidelines.

Once the online applications are closed, applicants meeting the minimum criteria (phase 1) are invited to participate in an online leadership characteristic assessments (phase 2).

Students will be shortlisted (phase 3) according to the minimum criteria and leadership psychometric assessment score and submitted to the Fellowship Committee for candidate shortlisting to proceed to an online panel interview with a panel consisting of Senior Managers in Absa (phase 4).

The list of candidates invited to the online interview will be updated with the online panel interview score (phase 5) and resubmitted to the Fellowship Committee for the final selection of provisionally qualified recipients (phase 6). These recipients will undergo a social media background check (phase 7) before a provisional offer letter for acceptance or decline will be forwarded (phase 8). Only a limited number of 50 students will be selected for the Absa Fellowship Programme.

On receipt of the provisional offer, the student will be required to provide the following, to enable moving to contracting and subsequent disbursement of funds (phase 9, the final phase):

    • Final proof of acceptance/registration for the relevant degree at the university indicated on the provisional offer letter
    • Final matric or equivalent level results with a minimum of 65%
    • Quotes from the institution for tuition and accommodation (or a copy of the rental agreement with the landlord)
    • Student visa, international student medical aid and return flights (where applicable).
Once the Fellowship has been awarded, the Committee reserves the right to adjust or withdraw any amount that may be awarded if there is a breach of the agreement entered into with the Fellowship recipient, or material changes in the recipient’s circumstances and eligibility. Material changes include but are not limited to changes in financial-need circumstances and institution of study and academic qualifications, among others.

As the Absa Fellowship Programme is aimed at developing future leaders, the applicants will be assessed to determine their leadership aptitude and competencies. The assessments will be divided into four categories, namely potential, leadership, values and logic.

    Potential – The degree to which possibilities can be found and the potential for change in situations presented to the benefit of society and those around an individual.
    Leadership – Individual ability to respond to change and challenges as well as leadership potential
    Values – Individual’s core values, personality type and outlook on the world
    Logic – Individual’s mental ability.
    The assessments are done via the contracted service provider, Yenza. Applicants will be required to register (providing personal information for registration purposes) on the Yenza platform to enable them access to the assessments. Only the results from the assessments will be provided to Absa for use in the shortlisting process, taking into account the abovementioned leadership aptitude and competencies.

    Applicants can access their assessment reports for own personal use from the Yenza Platform and will be able to further understand how Yenza uses their personal information by visiting the Yenza Privacy Policy and Terms of Use, by clicking on the following links:

    Any engagement between the applicant and Yenza, after the completion of the assessments for the Fellowship application process, will not form part of any agreement that Absa has with Yenza and Absa will have no involvement at any point. Yenza is not part of the application administration process and will therefore not be in a position to provide the applicant on a status of his/her application..

    The candidate will upload his/her presentation and video to the box folder link provided.

    The time allocated per presentation and the maximum number of PowerPoint slides will be communicated to the candidate, together with their topic, via email by Fundi on behalf of the Absa panel.

    The candidate will have two days before to research, prepare and submit the presentation and video.

    A minimum of two panel members will evaluate the presentation and video using a rubric to ensure alignment across all panel member evaluation.

    As a corporate citizen both in South Africa and on the continent, Absa is required to conduct business in an ethical and responsible manner. Acting in an ethical and responsible manner also requires the Group to be vigilant and guarded when dealing with groups or individuals (clients, regulators, governments, business partners, service providers, employees, competitors and communities) as their actions, behaviour or ways of doing business can do harm or carry risk for our brand. Absa’s values and behaviours represent the set of standards that governs the actions of every individual that works for the organisation in our dealings with external parties. We act fairly, ethically, openly and abide by higher standards than those set by the laws and regulations that apply to our business.


      • Act with integrity, ethically, with due skill, care and diligence.
      • Are open and co-operative with regulators.
      • Treat customers and clients fairly:
        - We ensure that we respect and protect all personal information that we hold and abide by privacy laws and regulations that set out requirements for handling personal information.

      • Observe proper standards of market conduct:
        - Committed to addressing our environmental impacts and comply with all applicable environmental legislation in the countries in which we operate and adhere to environmental management standard and operating procedures.

      • Respect one another professionally and each other’s diversity:
        - Treat colleagues and clients as they would expect to be treated themselves, and to respect, understand and benefit from others’ views and opinions
        - Work in an environment that encourages dignity and respect, and which is free from any form of favouritism, victimisation, harassment, bullying and discrimination.

      • Keep our communities in mind in day-to-day business:
        - Absa recognises that we have clear responsibilities to support governments and civil society organisations in respecting and upholding human rights principles wherever we operate.

    As part of the Absa Fellowship Programme application process, Absa will be performing candidate screening and background checks, and such screening may include social media screening (where your settings on such social media are set to public) and screening relating to any information about you we may obtain from publicly available sources such as search engine results.

    Continuation of the Absa Fellowship Programme for a subsequent year will be considered based on a review of a minimum participation of 80% attendance/participation to the leadership programme workshops and interventions, academic performance of at least 55%, conduct at the end of the current academic year as well as other eligibility requirements.

    Fellows who have less than an 80% attendance of leadership masterclasses, completion of Leadership Programme eLearning and participation in Emotional Wellness and Academic Tutoring interventions but pass their full academic year, will forfeit their place in the programme.

    Absa Fellows who achieve their 80% attendance of leadership masterclasses, completion of Leadership Programme eLearning and participation in Emotional Wellness and Academic Tutoring interventions but fail their full academic year, will forfeit their place in the programme. Recipients of the Fellowship are entitled to receive funding for one undergraduate degree. Individuals who change their course of study or fail any full academic year that will cause the student to not complete their degree in the standard required time, will forfeit/lose any further/subsequent funding from the Fellowship Programme.

    Recipients of the Fellowship who fails a subject and it does not cause the student to not complete their degree in the standard required time will be liable to pay the cost of the repeat of the subject from own pocket, but will not forfeit/lose any further/subsequent funding from the Absa Fellowship Programme. Any transfer to an extended degree programme or the extension of standard required time must be referred to the Education Committee for a decision. This request is to be supported by recommendation from the Degree Faculty.

    Where there are medical or other personal reasons, such as the death of a parent or sibling that causes the student to exit their studies during the academic year, it must be referred to the Education Committee for a decision.

    No, the funding under the Absa Fellowship Programme does not need to be paid back once the recipient has successfully completed their studies, provided that there are no breaches of contract.

    Only permanent citizens from the following countries who will study towards an undergraduate degree listed under Table A at one of the public South African universities listed under the Minimum criteria for the Absa Fellowship Programme can apply:

      South Africa

    • Applicants need to apply online.
    • Applicants need to ensure that the application form is filled out correctly, in full and in English.
    • All necessary documents are to be uploaded. You will not be able to complete the application process if mandatory documents are not uploaded.

    Applications with incomplete information and missing documents will not be considered and will be disqualified from the application process.

    Minimum documents required to complete the application:
    For matriculants:

      • Identity document
      • Provisional/Final acceptance from the university for undergraduate degree studies
      • Results for grade 12/NQF Level 4 or equivalent level if not schooled in SA
      • Disability certificate (if any)
      • Household income (only applicable for South African citizens)
      • Student visa/Student visa application confirmation
      • Student medical aid cover (international students only)
      • School certificate verification by the South African Matriculation Board.
    For current tertiary students:
      • Identity document
      • Provisional/Final acceptance for new course registration
      • Exam results of preceding semester
      • Disability certificate (if any)
      • Household income.
    Minimum documents required to complete contracting for successful matriculant and/or current tertiary student applicants:
      • Signed acceptance of the written offer made by Absa
      • Identity document
      • Final acceptance from the university for undergraduate degree studies/course change

    *Please note that the terms and conditions published and consented to during the application process will subsist over the tenure of the Absa Fellowship Programme and your participation therein.

    Guidelines for study fields in Social Sciences (Humanities), Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Design (STEAMHD): Academic year 2023

    Social Sciences (Humanities) Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics Design Entrepreneurship
    Any BA Degree. Examples include the following:

    • Performing Arts
    • Music
    • Drama
    • Social Work
    • Law
    • Languages
    • Political Sciences
    • Arts and Visual Arts
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Education
    • Theatre and Performance
    • Languages
    • Social Dynamics
    • Audiology
    • Speech Language
    Any B.Sc. Degree. Examples include the following:

    • Applied Bioinformatics
    • Agriculture
    • Biochemistry
    • Biology
    • Genetics
    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Chemistry with Chemical Engineering
    • Applied Chemistry
    • Oceanography
    • Astrophysics
    • Marine Biology
    • Astrophysics
    • Genetics
    • Marine Biology
    • Ocean and Atmosphere Science
    • Molecular Biology
    • Chemical Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Food Science
    • Biochemistry and Cell Biology
    • Genetics and Developmental Biology
    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Applied Physics and Engineering Mathematics
    • Geoinformatics
    • Meteorology
    • Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
    • Chemistry and Polymer Science
    • Chemistry and Chemical Technology
    • Applied Chemistry
    • Applied Physics
    • Astronomy
    • Hydrology
    • Computer Science
    • Information Technology
    • Computer Science and Informatics
    • Business Computing
    • Informatics
    • Information Systems
    • Computer Engineering
    • Information Engineering
    • Information Systems and Computer Science
    • Information and Knowledge Systems
    • Information Systems Management
    • Computer Science and Statistics
    • Nuclear Science and Engineering
    • Aeronautical
    • Chemical
    • Civil
    • Electrical
    • Mechanical
    • Metallurgy and Materials
    • Mining
    • Chemical
    • Extraction Metallurgy
    • Mechatronic
    • Water and Environmental Engineering
    • Construction
    • Energy
    • Robotics
    • Sound Engineering
    • Physical Metallurgy
    • Industrial
    • Electronic
    • Metallurgical
    • Civil Engineering
    - Structural
    - Engineering and Civil Engineering Informatics
    - Water and Environmental Engineering
    - Construction
    - Engineering and Management
    • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
      o Informatics
      o Energy
      o Robotics
      o Telecommunication
    • Electronic
    • Agricultural
    • Bioresources
    • Creative Arts
    • Film and Television
    • Fine Arts
    • Media Studies
    • Theatre and Performance
    • Digital Arts
    • Visual Art
    • Drama
    • Theatre and Performance
    • Drama and Performance
    • Visual Arts
    • Digital Arts
    • Film and Media Production
    • Fine Arts
    • Visual Studies
    • Drama and Film Studies
    • Drama and Theatre Studies
    • Fine Arts
    • Actuarial Science
    • Computational and Applied Mathematics
    • Mathematical Sciences
    • Mathematics of Finance
    • Econometrics
    • Mathematics
    • Applied Mathematics
    • Pure Mathematics
    • Statistics
    • Applied Mathematics
    • Applied Statistics
    • Mathematical Statistics
    • Statistics and Data Science
    • Actuarial and Financial Mathematics
    • Mathematical Statistics
    • Architecture
    • Urban, Regional and Development Planning
    • Architecture
    • Graphic Design
    • Multimedia (Digital) Design
    • Industrial Design
    • Architecture
    • City and Regional
    • Urban Design
    • Media and Writing
    • Digital Media
    • Game design
    • Interior Architecture
    • Multi Media
    • Information Design
    • Visual Communication
    • Integrated
    B.Scienceor BCom degree in

    • Entrepreneurship
    • Entrepeneurial Management
    • Management Science with Entrepreneurship as major