From physical to online spaces in the age of the #FeesMustFall protests: A Critical Interpretative Synthesis of writing centres in emergency situations

  • Robert Doya Nanima Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape
Keywords: #FeesMustFall, online spaces, physical spaces, tutor-student relationships, writing centres


Writing centres play a vital role in guiding students in their academic writing. Central to this role is their physical location at tertiary institutions, where students usually walk in and schedule appointments with writing tutors. The recent #FeesMustFall protests saw the temporary closure of universities across South Africa. As a result, the functionality of the writing centres as physical locations was disrupted to the detriment of student development. This article evaluates the application of the principles that underscore the operation of physical writing centres as online spaces. First, it evaluates the writing centre as a physical space, and the resulting shift to an online space as a result of the #FeesMustFall protests. Secondly, with the methodological aids of Critical Interpretative Synthesis and my personal reflections as a tutor, I analyse the possible application of the principles that guide physical writing centres to the online environment.