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The need for an academic ombudsman

TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION,4 September 1998

John Griffit

The settling of academic disputes by universities alone has always been a difficult process. John Griffith argues the case for an independent watchdog

Academic institutions are notorious for their internal disputes. Sometimes the arguments are about serious matters. It is not universally true, as Henry Kissinger reportedly said, that the reason academics quarrel so bitterly is because so little is at stake. In recent years all sorts of abuses of power have come to light in universities – bullying, corruption, nepotism, cheating, gagging clauses, etc.

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A single public sector ombudsman could spell end for visitor

TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION,18 August 2000

Higher education looks set to be brought under the stewardship of a new public sector ombudsman, spelling the end for the archaic and largely discredited visitor system, writes Phil Baty…Ministers expect to see firm proposals from vice-chancellors before the end of this year. They are willing to provide the legislative support to help set up a higher education ombudsman. The Cabinet Office will be consulting until late September.

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Ombudsman may name and shame

TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION, 30 October 2008

The student complaints body for England and Wales is to examine whether it should follow the example of its Scottish counterpart and publish its adjudications, naming the university involved.

Rob Behrens, who became head of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) in May, said he did not have a strong view on the idea, but it was one of a number of possibilities that would be considered as part of a wide-ranging review of the organisation announced this week..

On whether further education college students should be able to take complaints to the OIA, he said: „We don’t have imperialist ambitions to expand the remit of the office, but if there is an anomaly then we should be looking at it.”

He said he was aware that some complainants and universities thought the OIA took too long to resolve cases. However, he pointed out that some institutions had asked for more time to respond to OIA requests, and that complainants often arrived at the OIA „after a long haul in terms of the university process”, when they were anxious to resolve matters quickly.

The consultation, published at www.oiahe.org.uk, will run until 29 January, and a quantitative study by King’s College London will begin in December.

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The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education („OIA”) operates an independent student complaints scheme pursuant to the Higher Education Act 2004.

All higher education institutions in England and Wales are required to comply with the Rules of the scheme.

The service is free to students.

The OIA is not a regulator. We handle individual complaints against higher education institutions. We may also publish recommendations about how they deal with complaints and what constitutes good practice.

About Complaining gives a summary of the scheme.

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and good race relations.

All complainants and enquirers will be treated fairly and with respect, and in a positive spirit of support for good relations between all members of the Higher Education sector.

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THE OFFICE OF THE
INDEPENDENT
ADJUDICATOR FOR
HIGHER EDUCATION
resolving student complaints
A Guide to the Student Complaints Scheme
THE OFFICE OF THE INDEPENDENT ADJUDICATOR FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
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The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education in England and Wales E-newsletter
Edition 2, 2009

Welcome to the Spring 2009 edition of the OIA e-newsletter. The first edition received a very positive response from all parts of the HE Sector. Since the last edition, I have visited a number of universities and students’ unions including the University of the Arts, Anglia Ruskin University, York University and Birmingham City University. Issues raised a number of times include consistency in dealing with decisions, maintaining natural justice in the appeals process, record keeping and dealing with disability issues. There were also good exchanges about the importance of universities disseminating annual summary accounts of the outcome of complaints and appeals.

In addition to university visits, I attended the 7th Annual Conference of the European Network for Ombudsmen in Higher Education in Hamburg and presented a paper on the Pathway Project. I called on my counterpart in Scotland, Professor Alice Brown, the out-going Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. And I have recently returned from two sector conferences, the annual meetings of the Committee of University Chairmen (CUC), and the Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA).  I made presentations at both conferences and listened carefully to a wide range of views in the context of the Pathway Project.

The OIA’s Annual Report for 2008 will be published on May 19 2009. Please check the OIA website after this date for details.

Rob Behrens, Independent Adjudicator and Chief Executive  …

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ENOHE News, 2008 / 1

m.in.

Ombudsman of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Higher Education Ombudsman: British Example for Austria?

Spain: University Ombudsmen Declaration Signed

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ENOHE News, 2009 / 1

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