Students as Partners in Decolonising the Curriculum

Jo Hall, Vedrana Velickovic, Vy Rajapillai


This case study examines a continuing student-staff work-in-partnership project to decolonise the curriculum (Bhambra et al., 2020; Arday 2018; Bovil et al., 2016) at the University of Brighton. We reflect on the decolonising activities used, in order to identify how local grassroots activities are contributing to shaping wider institutional change. The University’s ‘Curriculum Advisers Scheme’ was originally launched as part of a broader, University-wide initiative called ‘Developing Learning Communities’, which aimed to develop a sense of belonging and community for students by means of student-staff partnerships (Healey et al., 2014). Curriculum Advisers were recruited in the two disciplinary areas of Humanities and Art in 2018-19 and 2019-20, with the purpose of creating activities, events and resources relating to decolonisation of the curriculum. Student-staff partnerships in the School of Humanities have continued to evolve past the completion of the second year of the project. While, in 2018-19, the focus was on building resources, in 2019-20, a newly established and largely black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) student-staff group set out to achieve some specific objectives, including a student audit of module reading lists, the co-development of a student-staff blog addressing various aspects of the process of decolonising curriculum and a student-led panel discussion event with an invited external speaker and staff. In this case study, we celebrate the successes of the last two years of the project, but also highlight challenges to be faced in developing liberationist modes of partnership work within the technocratic structures of higher education (HE). This case study evaluates the Curriculum Advisers project, with reference to a Freirean pedagogy of partnership, identifying positive actions that work to counter neoliberal and technocratic threats to meaningful work in partnership, and also outlines some of the challenges of working within this framework.


BAME, partnership working, decolonising, curriculum

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