Prof Mikateko Mathebula
Associate Professor
Centre for Development Support
Centre for Research on Higher Education and Develo
IB 6
Benito Khotseng Building 110

Short CV

Mikateko Mathebula is Associate Professor at the SARCHI Chair’s Higher Education and Human Development Research Programme, at the University of the Free State, South Africa. Her work examines through a capabilities lens, the relationship between processes of higher education, ‘development’ and human flourishing in the South African context, with a focus on youth from low-income households and/or rural areas. Recently completed projects include the SRHE-funded (2021-2022) photovoice scoping study of the educational trajectories of youth from an informal settlement in the Free State; and her current NRF-funded (2021-2023) project investigates the contribution that universities make to the transformation of rural communities, by exploring, describing and documenting through narratives, the post university life trajectories of youth from rural areas in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.




Walker, M., McLean, M., Mathebula, M. and Mukwambo, P. (2022) Low-Income Students, Human Development and Higher Education in South Africa:  Opportunities, obstacles and outcomes.  Cape Town: African Minds

Mathebula, M. (2018) Engineering Education for Sustainable Development: A capabilities approach. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

Journal articles and book chapters

Mathebula, M. and Masutha, M. (2021) Supporting pathways into higher education for low-income youth: lessons from a youth-led non-profit organisation In A. De Lannoy, M. Langa and H. Brooks (eds.) Youth in South Africa: Agency, (in)visibility and national development, Johannesburg: MISTRA.

Mathebula, M. and Martinez-Vargas, C. (2021) Broadening the normative and evaluative space for assessing the impact of photo diary research in higher education: a capabilities approach. In X. Cao and E. F. Henderson (eds.) Diary Method in Higher Education Research, Routledge (SRHE series).

Walker, M. and Mathebula, M. (2020) A participatory photovoice project: towards capability expansion of ‘invisible’ students in South Africa. In M. Walker and A. Boni (eds). Participatory research, capabilities and epistemic justice: A transformative agenda for higher education, Palgrave.

Walker, M. and Mathebula, M. (2020) Low-income rural youth migrating to urban universities in South Africa: opportunities and inequalities. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education,

Mathebula, M. (2019) Recognising poor black youth from rural communities in South Africa as epistemic contributors, Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning, 7, 1: 64-85.

Mathebula, M. and Calitz, T. (2018) #Feesmustfall: A media analysis of students’ voices on access to universities in South Africa, In P. Ashwin and J.M. Case (eds). Pathways to the Public Good: Access, Experiences and Outcomes of South African Undergraduate Education.  Cape Town: African Minds.

Mathebula, M. (2016) ‘We think we’re helping, but are we really?’- Critical reflections on engineering for sustainable development. In G. Nhamo and V. Mjimba (eds). Sustainability, Climate Change and the Green Economy. Pretoria:  Africa Institute  of South Africa/HSRC  Press.


Mathebula, M., Walker, M. Towards a broader understanding of ‘black tax’ and its impact on low-income university students in South Africa, Journal of Contemporary African Studies

Mathebula, M., Martinez-Vargas, C. Ubuntu as a valued capability for university students in South Africa, Journal of Student Affairs in Africa



Publications (Short List)



Current projects

NRF/Thuthuka funded project: Life after `varsity` in South Africa: Rural youth narratives on their post university trajectories (2021-2023)


SRHE funded project: Pursuing  higher education in contexts of socio-spatial exclusion: a scoping study of the educational trajectories of youth from informal settlements (2022-2023)


GCRF Network Plus/TESF funded project: Universities as sustainable communities (2021-2022)




Area(s) of Interest

Higher education; youth studies; capabilities approach; participatory research.

Courses Presented

Development, Underdevelopment and Poverty: Theme 3 (Approaches to Development)

Introduction to Qualitative Research




Tel: +27 51 401 3825
Academic Advice:
EMS Applications:
EMS Appeals BFN (South and Bloemfontein)
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