November 30, 2012

Leiden University Introduces New Ombuds

The Netherlands' oldest university has appointed Jacqueline van Meerkerk as its Ombudsperson for Students.  Van Meerkerk, who worked previously as Ombudsperson at the Vrije Universiteit and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, says that students are increasingly aware of their rights.  this trend is reflected in the caseload for her office: the number of complaints rose from 66 in 2007 to 99 in 2011.
Van Meerkerk explained how she approaches her role:
In the first instance, I advise a student about what he or she can do to resolve the problem. It is only if that doesn't work that I get involved myself. I don't take sides; my job is to take an objective view of the issue. The kinds of questions I ask are: what exactly happened, who said or did what and when, what hasn't been done? I check whether the relevant rules have been followed and whether procedures have been properly implemented. What it comes down to is whether the student has been treated with due care. Once I have looked at the issue, I make a recommendation, arrange a referral or reach a decision.
Van Meerkerk graduated with a Bachelor's in social work from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and earned an LLM from the University of Amsterdam. (Leiden News; LinkedIn.)

Related post:  Interview With Ombuds for Leiden University.

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