Ombudsman will be available to students as well
The ombudsman is meant to combat transgressive behaviour at universities and to make people feel safer. The new ombudsman will have more power than the university’s confidential adviser. For one, they can initiate investigations into abuses independently. All Dutch universities will have to hire someone for the position by July 1.
The universities do have a lot of freedom in how they fill the position, though. They decide how many hours the position will have and whether the ombudsman will be available to students.
Initially, the UG board decided to hire an ombudsman for 0.6 FTE, and that this person would not be available to students. They were willing to consider giving the ombudsman more authority, but only after they’d gained some experience.
After the university council expressed criticism and the board talked to the unions, the board reconsidered its position. So says a memo that will be discussed during this week’s council meeting. The ombudsman will be given 0.8 FTE.
Jacomijn Wolters, with the UG’s integrity committee, said this doesn’t mean staff and students should immediately start complaining about everything. ‘It’s an illusion to think that reports and complaints against the organisation on a formal level will lead to a good organisation’, she said. ‘As far as staff is concerned: talk to your supervisor if something is bothering you. Students can turn to their lecturers.’
‘We want to create a culture where people can hold each other accountable’, says board president Jouke de Vries. ‘We should be able to talk to people who are doing things that aren’t okay.’