By | October 24, 2017

University Reserve Training Programme | South African National Defence Force (SANDF)


To identify, select and recruit young South African citizens with leadership characteristics, who are undergoing tertiary education, and to conduct their military foundation training in an appropriate and accessible manner, to prepare them for subsequent corps/functional and Junior Leader Training for appointment into military leadership positions within the SANDF.


The URTP incorporates a learning pathway for officers in the SANDF and is focused on undergraduate and postgraduate students at Universities and other Tertiary Education Institutions for appointment into the SANDF Reserves. Some members may, on completion of training, apply for appointment into the SANDF Regular Force, if they so wish.

What is the URTP

Since the conscription ended in 1992 the Reserve Force has needed leaders at the junior officer level. They should eventually develop into the senior commanders of the future. The shortage lowers SA National Defence Force (SANDF) efficiency and also hinders transformation.

A tried and proven source of leadership lies in the student bodies of universities and other tertiary institutions – as has long been recognised and successfully used in many countries. Leadership training given to potential officers is relevant both to their military and civilian lives and provides additional personal development to the part-time volunteer soldier. This training may contribute greatly to further achievement and success in the student’s chosen careers, civilian and military.

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The SANDF has introduced the University Reserve Training Programme (URTP) to recruit junior leaders from the “best and the brightest” of the undergraduate and postgraduate student bodies. The URTP provides a challenging programme of military training combined with leadership and other complementary social, cultural and physical training. The goal of URTP training is to produce a fighter in wartime, a leader of strong character, with a professional attitude and prepared to serve the nation. These characteristics should develop the military leader to face the future with inspiration and motivation.

Applicants are selected by a process of interviews and tests, following the normal recruitment process in the SANDF. In accordance with a Volunteer Military Service contract in the Reserves for successful applicants, two years of successful training lead to a commission as a Second Lieutenant or Lieutenant (Ensign or Sub-Lt in the SA Navy )if the candidate already holds a degree or diploma of equal value.

University Reserve Training Programme Charter


From experience in other countries where similar programmes have been implemented, the three main role-players can benefit in the following ways:


The skills and capabilities of the leader element of the SANDF will be enhanced. The leadership and managerial skills within the military will improve. Members of high calibre, who are likely to become the future leaders and opinion-makers in civil society, well-disposed to the concept of voluntary part-time military service, will be recruited. Their exposure to the military environment and personal experience in the URTP will be a long-term investment for the SANDF in fostering the military-civil partnership.

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The Student

The URTP is focussed on developing the leadership potential of young people. This will play a major role in not only developing individual management skills but also in establishing self-awareness, self-discipline and self-confidence. The students will be exposed to a challenging programme of military training and additional complementary social activities, adventure and cultural activities that will broaden their outlook on life. As members of the SANDF, the students will be subject to the Military Disciplinary Code (MDC) which will provide an additional frame of reference for self-discipline. In the military environment teamwork is essential and students will develop a sense of responsibility and respect towards fellow members in the group. This will not only develop their social interaction capabilities, but will also facilitate their induction into new career environments. As members of the SANDF they will become part of a highly technological and exciting organisation that can offer many career experiences and opportunities.