#FeesMustFall and decolonising the curriculum: Stellenbosch University students’ and lecturers’ reactions

  • E. Costandius Stellenbosch University http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3561-7652
  • M. Blackie Stellenbosch University
  • I. Nell Stellenbosch University
  • R. Malgas Stellenbosch University
  • N. Alexander Stellenbosch University
  • E. Setati Stellenbosch University
  • M. Mckay SU


In South African higher education institutions, the student protests of 2015–2016 called for the decolonisation of higher education spaces and equal access to these spaces. We collected data from students and lecturers over the period of one year in order to better understand the reactions of students and lecturers and the effects the protests had on their experiences. Perspectives of affective theory, decolonisation and social justice theories were used. It was discovered that the protests had a great affective impact on participants. Strong emotions and beliefs affected the relationships between students and lecturers and African centrality was suggested as a framework for curriculum change. Some settler perspectives emerged and polarisation was evident. It is our hope that lecturers could use this research to assist them in decolonising their spaces of teaching and learning.


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Author Biographies

E. Costandius, Stellenbosch University
Elmarie Costandius is an associate professor in Visual Arts and coordinates the MA in Visual Arts (Art Education) at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She studied Information Design at the University of Pretoria and continued her studies at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam. Her PhD in Curriculum Studies (Stellenbosch University) focused on social responsibility and critical citizenship in art education. Elmarie received a Teaching Fellowship from the Department of Education in 2011–2013, in 2013 the HELTASA CHE National Excellence in Teaching Award and in 2015–2016 the Teaching Advancement at University (TAU) fellowship. She published her first book with Eli Bitzer, titled Engaging higher education curricula: A critical citizenship education perspective, in 2015. Elmarie published in the field of critical citizenship and art education in various journals in South Africa and abroad.
M. Blackie, Stellenbosch University
Ian Nell is a Professor in Practical Theology at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University.
I. Nell, Stellenbosch University
Neeske Alexander completed a masters degree at Stellenbosch University focussing on critical citizenship in art education. She has continued research, writing and publishing in the field of critical citizenship education. She is also a language tutor.
R. Malgas, Stellenbosch University

Dr Margaret Blackie is a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at the University of Stellenbosch.


N. Alexander, Stellenbosch University
Rhoda Malgas is a lecturer of the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University.
E. Setati, Stellenbosch University
Dr Evodia Setati is a senior researcher at the Institute for Wine Biotechnology (IWBT) at the University of Stellenbosch.


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How to Cite
Costandius, E., M. Blackie, I. Nell, R. Malgas, N. Alexander, E. Setati, and M. Mckay. 2018. “#FeesMustFall and Decolonising the Curriculum: Stellenbosch University students’ and lecturers’ Reactions”. South African Journal of Higher Education 32 (2), 65-85. https://doi.org/10.20853/32-2-2435.
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