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Standard awards approval

When should I submit a pre-award approval form?

Type of application Need to submit eRA approval form?
New application  
International funder (e.g. NIH, Wellcom Trust, EU)* Yes
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)* Yes, except for self-initiated research grant proposals
National Research Foundation (NRF) No
Internal UCT funding (e.g. URC) No
Grants submitted/administered through other institutions* If UCT is claiming budget, then yes
Renewal, amended or extended application  
Renewal grant application Yes (where yes for the original application)
Amendment or extension to grant If there is a change to the budget or protocol then yes (when yes for original application)
Fellowships and studentships  
Postdoctoral & early-career fellowships to external funder* Yes, except for SAMRC and NRF
UCT fellowships No
Postgraduate studentships to external funder Yes, but only where funds are provided for project costs in addition to the personal stipend (note, for studentships the PI named on the approval form must be the supervisor)
UCT postgraduate studentships/scholarships No
If in doubt, ask yourself: will what I am submitting pose any potential risk to UCT, whether in terms of resource use, research ethics, health and safety, and finances? If the answer is yes, then complete an approval form.

*Letter of Intent/Preliminary Application: An eRA approval form needs to be submitted if supplying a budget breakdown by cost category. If only supplying a single figure for total budget requested, then an approval form does not need to be submitted.

More FAQs

  • 1. Is there a tutorial describing how to navigate the eRA system?

  • 2. Why do I get logged out of the system after a period of inactivity?

    To protect your personal data and institutional security, the system will automatically log you out after a period of inactivity (30 min). Please note, the system will not auto save any data entered into a newly initiated pre-awards approval form. To avoid disappointment, please be sure to save your application at regular intervals when in the process of entering data.

  • 3. What is the purpose of the project approval request form?

    The UCT eRA approval form serves to help manage risk (in terms of resource use, research ethics, health & safety, and finances) to UCT at the time when researchers apply for external grant funding. For example, if a researcher does not take into account factors like inflation, exchange rate fluctuation and indirect costs in their budget, then this puts both their project and the university at financial risk.
  • 4. Will the UCT eRA system submit my application to the funder?

    No. All actions to ‘submit’ within the eRA system are for the purposes of internal submission and approval only. It is the PI’s responsibility to ensure the application is submitted to the appropriate funder using the system or mechanism designated by the funder, by the funder’s deadline. Importantly, please ensure you receive a confirmation of submission message from the funder following application submission (whether submitted by yourself as PI or by a Research Contracts Manager).

  • 5. Who completes which parts of the approval form?

    The ‘Key Information’, ‘Research Related Information’, ‘Resourcing, Ethics & Biosafety’ tabs must be completed by the PI (or individual designated by the PI – see FAQ 6 below). The ‘Financial Information’ tab is to be completed by the Faculty Finance Reviewer (staff member in your Finance Department), while the ‘Approval and Outcome’ tab is to be completed by the Faculty Finance Reviewer, Faculty Finance Approver, Final Faculty Approver and staff at the Research Contracts & Innovation Office (RC&I). Once outcome of an application is known, the PI is expected to update this outcome information under the ‘Approval and Outcome’ tab (an automated email will alert PIs to this requirement 90 days after the approval form has been marked as submitted).

  • 6. Can I delegate access for the completion of an approval form?

    Yes ( watch the video tutorial @2m38s). Completion of administrative and project information can be performed by an individual designated by yourself as PI. The delegated individual will also be able to complete all internal submission steps as well as perform the “Preliminary/final declaration by Applicant” on behalf of the PI. Notifications updating PIs on progress of the internal approval form will be sent to both the PI and delegated individual. Please note, ultimate responsibility for all delegated tasks remains with the PI.

  • 7. Does the project approval form need to be submitted for all funding applications?

    There are a small number of funders/schemes for which you do not need to submit an approval form. These are: internal/URC grants and awards, applications for NRF, CANSA, and the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation grants, and applications for the South African Medical Research Council Self-Initiated Research scheme. These schemes currently have other internal review processes. An approval form must be submitted for all other external grant applications, including all single-stage applications, full applications and preliminary funding applications requiring a budget breakdown. When submitting a preliminary application/concept note where no budget information is requested, an approval form is not required (see FAQ 8 below); however, should you be invited by the funder to submit a full application it would then be necessary to complete an approval form. For a full summary of when to submit an approval see the table at the top of this page.

  • 8. Do I need to complete an approval form for preliminary applications that do not request a budget breakdown (i.e. budget detail by cost category)?

    No. Preliminary applications that do not contain project budget information by cost category (i.e. you are only required to submit a single total value), and where the funder does not require institutional sign-off/submission, are the only type of applications that do not require internal review and approval. Should you be invited by the funder to submit a full application it would then be necessary to complete an approval form.
  • 9. What are the internal deadlines for submission of the approval form?

    In instances where RC&I approval is required for final submission of your application to a funder, RC&I requires that they receive a fully signed-off approval form five (5) working days before the funder's deadline. The Faculty Finance Approver and Final Faculty Approver require three (3) working days to review the documentation before the RC&I deadline. Therefore, the completed approval form, with all relevant attachments and finance information (the latter completed by the Finance Reviewer) must be submitted to the Faculty Finance Approver eight (8) working days before the funder deadline. These internal deadlines allow for a thorough review and adequate time to make any necessary amendments. Please note, should you as PI not adhere to these internal deadlines, internal approval of your application prior to the funder’s submission deadline cannot be guaranteed. Completion of project details on the approval form and development of the budget can however be done with the Finance Reviewer any time in advance of these deadlines (the earlier the better). For descriptions of the different roles in the approval process, please see FAQ 18 below.

  • 10. Does the project proposal uploaded to the approval form need to be the final version?

    The proposal uploaded can be in draft format; however, the budget must be final. Importantly, the version of the proposal uploaded to the approval form must contain sufficient information for an internal reviewer to understand the activities of the project and any potential risks to the institution, financial or otherwise. Changes made to the proposal following internal approval should have no bearing on resource risk or the budget. In the event changes to the proposal result in changes to the budget, it will be necessary to initiate a new approval request.
  • 11. Do all project co-investigators need to be listed, or only UCT co-investigators?

    The system only permits the addition of people that are included on the UCT personnel databases (including staff, postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students), so only UCT co-investigators need to be added. These can be added by selecting the + icon and searching for the relevant UCT personnel.

  • 12. What’s the difference between the funder’s and PI’s budget template?

    The funder’s budget template (where applicable) is one supplied by the funder in their specific format, which must be completed by the PI and submitted to the funder along with the application. The PI’s budget template is one that is prepared by the PI through consultation with their Departmental Finance Officer (PI’s may choose to make their own version different to the funder’s, often with more detailed information, for internal use). The PI’s template is preferably an Excel document.

  • 13. Do I have to upload both a funder’s and PI’s budget template?

    When the funder has their own budget template, the completed version must be uploaded to the approval form. If the PI has created their own budget template, please upload this too to ensure the project budget information can be internally reviewed.

  • 14. How do I attach documents to the approval form?

    Documents can be attached by selecting the folder icon. The relevant document is then selected for upload from the location where it is stored on your computer.
  • 15. Can I attach multiple documents to the online form?

    Yes. Multiple files can be selected for attachment to the form when selecting files from your system for upload.

  • 16. What additional documents (beyond the proposal and budget) would I typically send to the RC&I when requesting institutional approval to submit my funding application?

    Funders that supply an application template requiring institutional approval will generally include a page that needs to be signed by an institutional official. Ensure this page (whether separate or part of the entire application form) is attached to the eRA approval form for the attention of RC&I. For some funders (e.g. Wellcome, NIH), final institutional approval is given online by completion of the final submission step by the institution (after the PI has completed their part of the submission).

  • 17. What is the difference between ‘Save’ and ‘Save and Close’?

    ‘Save’ will save all information captured on the approval form up to that point, but will not progress the form to any subsequent approval steps. ‘Save and Close’ will result in a pop-up dialogue box wherein options are provided to either save your form in draft status or progress your form to the next workflow step in the approval process. Please refer to standard approval form process for further detail relating to the order to follow for each step of the approval process.

  • 18. What is the difference between the Faculty Finance Reviewer, Faculty Finance Approver and Final Faculty Approver; who are they and what do they do?

    The Faculty Finance Reviewer is a staff member in your Finance Department (e.g. Departmental Finance Officer) who will help you develop an appropriate budget and will complete the financial information in the approval form. Following completion of the respective sections by the Principal Investigator and Finance Department, the form is sent for final internal approval by the Faculty Finance Approver (e.g. Research Management Accountant or Faculty Finance Manager) followed by the Final Faculty Approver (e.g. Deputy Dean of Research). An overview of the tasks performed at each step are described in the standard approval form process.

  • 19. Will I know who the reviewers/approvers are and can I contact them if I have queries?

    These individuals can be contacted by email or phone if needed. The identity of the Faculty Finance Reviewer should be known to you as PIs are expected to develop their project budgets in advance of submitting the approval form. The identity of the Faculty Finance Approver and Final Faculty Approver will however only be known once the relevant individual has completed the approval step. As such, please familiarise yourself with who these individuals are in your Faculty in case it is necessary to contact them in advance of the approval form reaching them. Once an approval step has been completed, the identities of the Reviewer and Faculty Approvers can be established by accessing the ‘Status log’ of your approval form (see FAQ 26 below for the location of the ‘Status log’).

  • 20. Why can I not add text in some text boxes or only complete certain check boxes?

    This is to indicate a section that either does not need to be completed by you or which can only be completed by you following the completion of approval steps by the Faculty Finance Reviewer, Faculty Finance Approver or Final Faculty Approver.

  • 21. Why does the Faculty Finance Reviewer not send the approval form to the Faculty Finance Approver once the budget detail has been captured, i.e. why is the form returned to me as PI and then I send it to the Faculty Finance Approver?

    This is an important step that the PI is responsible for to ensure they understand and maintain ownership of the project budget. As PI, you are expected to review and approve the financial information provided by the Faculty Finance Reviewer before submitting for Faculty Finance approval (and Final Faculty approval).
  • 22. Can I withdraw my approval form if I choose not to submit?

    Yes. If you choose to do so, please select the check box at the bottom of the “Resourcing, Ethics & Biosafety” tab indicating you choose to withdraw the application. Once checked, please process the application to the next appropriate step (by selecting ‘Save & Close’) to ensure all relevant individuals are notified of your decision.

  • 23. Can a student or postdoctoral fellow complete the form as PI?

    No. Only staff personnel with permission to open a cost account at UCT can act as PI on an approval form. Please see FAQ 24 below if the approval is for a fellowship to be held by a student/postdoctoral fellow at UCT.
  • 24. If a staff member acts as the PI completing the form on behalf of a postgraduate student or postdoctoral fellow, should the student’s/fellow’s details be listed?

    Yes. Student/fellow details should be included under the “Co-Investigators” section. A note indicating this arrangement should preferably be included in the “Additional comments from Applicant” box under the “Resourcing, Ethics & Biosafety” tab. The staff member takes responsibility for the accuracy of the application and approval form.

  • 25. Can I copy or transfer the information entered for one approval form into a new form?

    Yes. The eRA system offers a “clone” option whereby information entered in an approval form can be transferred to a new form. Please ensure all relevant project information and documents are updated accordingly in a cloned form.

  • 26. Can I track the status of my approval form through each step of the approval process?


    Yes. This can be achieved in one of two ways. The primary means by which to check status is through your profile Dashboard where all approval forms that have passed the Finance Reviewer step will be listed under ‘Recently edited’ items. The form of interest can be opened and the ‘Status log’ for that form opened by selecting ‘Admin info’ (located above the ‘More’ tab). Within the ‘Status log’ you will find the detail of which step in the approval process your form is currently at. You will not be able to edit any of the information on the approval form once it has entered the approval sequence. Alternatively, all forms you have submitted for review and internal approval are listed under ‘Project Applications/Approval Requests’, located under ‘Award Management’ in the left side menu. Selecting ‘Project Applications/Approval Requests’ will link to a secondary dashboard with a list of all approval forms linked to your profile. To the bottom right of the information box for each of your approval forms is a status flag and associated message indicating which step in the approval process your form is currently at.

  • 27. If I am travelling can someone else complete and submit the approval form on my behalf?

    Yes, this can be achieved by delegating access to your profile to a trusted individual in your research group or department. Please see video link in FAQ 6 above for how to go about delegating access.

  • 28. What do I enter as the funder if the grant is being supported by multiple funders or under an umbrella funding scheme (e.g. Newton Fund)?

    In instances such as this, list the primary funder as the funder responsible for managing receipt of your application.

  • 29. Do I need to complete an approval form if the application is being led and submitted by another institution (i.e. not by UCT)?

    Yes. If UCT is claiming budget on a funding application, then an approval form must be submitted.

  • 30. Do I need to submit an approval form if the funder does not require institutional approval before submission?

    If the project budget submitted to the funder is broken down by cost categories, then yes.