What is an ombud in higher education?
The rules of the procedure vary for each ombud as it depends on local legislation. But common is, that the ombud in higher education:
- Is a neutral person to whom students, staff, faculty, and administrators can turn in an informal and confidential manner for help with complaints about their institution.
- Is resolving problems in an informal manner, primarily through mediation. Some academic ombuds are also entitled to launch an investigation into the complaint concluding with a formal decision.
- Should identify structural problems within the higher education institution and make recommendations to responsible authorities to prevent similar problems in the future or improve the existing situation.
- Is positioned independently from the organization’s management structure and has direct access to anyone.
- Do not act as advocates for individuals or a specific group of students, bud rather advocate fairness and righteousness.
- Is contributing to the quality assurance strand with the Bologna process. Ombuds in higher education have working relations with:
- Senates, councils, faculties, deans
- Admission offices
- Internations offices
- Student representatives
- Interest groups
The Office of the University Ombudsman offers a safe place where community members may discuss problems or issues within the University. The Ombudsman treats all inquiries as confidential, as described in our Ethical Principles below. We assist visitors in several ways:
- Provide a welcoming environment to listen to visitor concerns
- Provide information on University policies and practices
- Provide information on how to make the University aware of a particular problem
- Discuss and assist the visitor in evaluating available options
- Refer the visitor to the proper authority to resolve the situation
- Facilitate constructive dialogue
- While maintaining confidentiality, provide upward feedback to the administration (or others in authority) when a systemic issue or trend occurs
The Ombudsman assists visitors in a variety of ways consistent with our mission. The Ombudsman does not take a side in disputes. Overall, the Ombudsman is an advocate for fairness and equity.