February 20, 2007

University Ombuds Still Rare in UK Due to New Judicial Process

Historically, universities in the United Kingdom have referred student complaints to an archaic appeals process overseen by a "visitor," usually a outside dignitary. Some new universities employ an ombudsman, generally classical, to address student concerns. The most recent development has been the creation of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA), which takes a non-confrontational, informal approach. Speed is essential to a smooth process and the office aims to resolve most complaints within three months. Of 147 higher education institutions, 109 joined the voluntary scheme when it commenced in March 2004. Since it was set up, the OIA has investigated just over 500 cases and resolved 195. (The Guardian; Office of the Independent Adjudicator.)

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