OIA's "Pathway 3 Consultation" sought views from across the higher education sector on effective strategies to promote the early resolution of complaints and appeals and better all-round complaints handling in universities. The first three survey questions went to the issue of Campus Ombuds:
1a. Please describe your experience and view of the nature and extent of existing campus ombudsman services provided by or through universities and students’ unions in England and Wales.Although the report concluded that early resolution of complaints on campus is a key strategic issue for the sector, Campus Ombuds were not recommended:
1b. Should each university provide access to a campus ombudsman to resolve complaints at an early stage?
1c. How should these campus ombudsmen be appointed?
[T]here is no merit in limiting early resolution to one, single, new-made, organisational form of the campus ombudsman given the diversity of approaches and the record of achievement of a number of existing bodies in supporting students with complaints. ... In part, this is because of the difficulty of grafting on to the English and Welsh university complaints handling arrangements a concept – campus ombudsman – which “is more spoken about than practised” and sits uneasily with existing arrangements, notwithstanding its successful and variable deployment internationally.
Moreover, the report found that a Campus Ombuds might be confused with the existing Ombudsman function that is performed by the OIA as indepedent complaints handler of last resort. Nonetheless, OIA does not rule out the Campus Ombuds might be tested on a limited basis, perhaps under a different name. (Higher Education White Paper, Higher Education: Students at the Heart of the System; OIA Pathway 3 Publications.)
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