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Revision of Language Policy (2016)

​​​​​​Invitation to comment on second draft by 14 August 2021

With the current Language Policy (2016) as the point of departure, the Language Policy Revision Task Team compiled and published the first draft of a revised Language Policy (2016) for public input in March/April 2021. Inputs were considered and a second draft of the revised policy was formulated.

The second draft of the revised policy is available for public comment from 23 July 2021 until 14 August 2021. Internal and external interested parties are invited to participate in the second public participation phase of the policy revision.  As for the first public participation opportunity, comments related to the second draft can only be submitted via the digital platform available here. Please note that no comments will be possible after the closing date of 14 August 2021.

Second public participation phase (23 July 2021 – 14 August 2021)

As part of the second public participation phase, SU has made the information considered by the Language Policy Revision Task Team during the revision available to the public. The Context document for the revision of the Language Policy (2016)  provides a broad overview of the process and timeline; the international and national higher education context, the Stellenbosch University context; the implementation costs of various language scenarios and the Rectorate's perspective of multilingualism and the SU Language Policy (2016). Interested parties can also refer to the contextual documents listed below for more detailed information.

The links below will give participants access to the relevant background reading, input received during the first consultation phase, the second draft of the Language Policy (2016) and the platform where interested parties can upload their comments.

From left to right:

  • Second draft of the revised policy after due consideration of comment received during the first public participation phase and the internal SU consultation;
  • Version of the second draft of revised policy that indicates the changes made and comments by the task team based on the feedback received on the first draft;
  • Digital platform to upload comment related to the second draft of the revised policy;
  • Context document for the revision of the Language Policy (2016). ​

​​Contextual documents ​

Higher Education context​​

SU Conte​xt

First public participation phase (March/April 2021)

Stellenbosch University (SU) invited interested parties to comment on the first draft of a revised language policy in March/April this year as part of the five-year revision cycle prescribed in the Language Policy (2016) itself. Paragraph 10 of the Language Policy (2016) stipulates that the policy “lapses five years after the date of its implementation" and that it “must be reviewed during its fifth year of operation". The current policy was implemented at the beginning of 2017.

The first public participation period started on 20 March and closed on 12 April 2021. Since the Constitutional Court in 2019 found the Language Policy (2016) to be constitutionally justified and the University's process in adopting the policy “thorough, exhaustive, inclusive and properly deliberative", the current policy has been used as the point of departure for the revision process.

The revision is informed further by, amongst others, the SU Vision 2040 and Strategic Framework 2019–2024, which has been adopted and implemented after the Language Policy (2016) was approved, as well as the Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions determined in terms of section 27(2) of the Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act101 of 1997 as amended). Refer to the Context document f or the revision of the Language Policy (2016)  for more information.

From left to right:

  • The Response Report containing comment from the public received during the first public participation phase in March/April 2021
  • First draft of the revised Language Policy (2016) that was published for public comment
  • The current Language Policy (2016)​
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Afrikaans as indigenous language 

The National Language Policy Framework for Higher Education Institutions (the National Policy) promulgated by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation in October 2020, defines indigenous languages as “languages that have their heritage roots in Africa (also referred to as African languages in literature and some policy documents) that belong to the South​ern Bantu language family, where 'Bantu' is used purely as a linguistic term. An indigenous language is a language that is native to a region or country and spoken by indigenous people".

In response to the exclusion of Afrikaans from the classification of indigenous languages in the National Policy, the SU Council accepted the following motion at its meeting on 21 June 2021:  “SU has taken note with concern of the Department of Higher Education and Training's classification (of Afrikaans) in the Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions. SU supports the view that Afrikaans and the Khoe and San languages are indigenous languages. Council requests SU's management to take appropriate steps to engage with the DHET to address this issue." 

In its comprehensive feedback on the Department of Higher Education and Training's draft revised Language Policy for Higher Education (2017), Stellenbosch University supported the position that Afrikaans is an indigenous language of South Africa. Universities were not given an opportunity to comment on the final version of the National Policy promulgated in October 2020. SU also brought the matter to the attention of Universities South Africa (USAf) as it is not known whether any of the other South African universities have had the opportunity to consider the practical and cost implications of the National Policy.

Read more about language at Stellenbosch University >

Timeline and m​ilestones  ​

The SU Statute (2019) stipulates that the SU Council must determine the institution's language policy with the concurrence of Senate and in accordance with section 27(2) of the Higher Education Act​ (Act No 101 of 1997, as amended). The revision process was initiated in October 2020 by convening a task team and proposing a timeline based on the University Almanac for 2021 (refer to timeline below). The objective is to table a final draft Language Policy (2021) for approval by Council on 2 December this year. The milestones in the timeline focus on the scheduled meetings of Senate, the Institutional Forum and Council, as well as the two public participation processes.