Student seated in a public cafe looking at laptop with a frustrated expression.

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Merriam-Webster’s defines ombudsman as: noun. a person who investigates, reports on, and helps settle complaints an individual usually affiliated with an organization or business who serves as an advocate for patients, consumers, employees, etc.

The Ombudsman Office supports all members of a university or college. This is an informal and neutral office that that provides off-the-record impartial assistance for students, faculty, staff for concerns and matters related to the university or college. While an ombudsman cannot make any administrative or policy changes, they can help persons navigate and resolve conflicts.

This office may be able to provide services such as –

  • Mediation of disputes
  • Explain college/university policies and procedures
  • Listen to your concerns and provide unbiased feedback
  • Assist you with problems that have not been resolved by other offices
  • Provide a safe and confidential place to discuss your concerns
  • Make referrals and define options that are available to you

The office cannot –

  • Provide legal aid
  • Assign sanctions
  • Make decisions for students and staff
  • Enforce or change any policies, rules, or procedures
  • Participate in investigations
  • Assist with non-university/college concerns
  • Advocate for an individual or group

The next time you need someone to listen or you do not know where to go for help, call or visit your institution’s Ombudsman’s Office.

References – 

Lose, T. and Turner, P., 2022. Ombuds Office. [online] Ombuds.ucf.edu. Available at: <https://www.ombuds.ucf.edu/> [Accessed 25 February 2022].
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Ombudsman definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved February 25, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ombudsman
Ombuds. 2022. Services. [online] Available at: <https://ombuds.wisc.edu/services/> [Accessed 25 February 2022].
Valenciacollege.edu. 2022. Ombudsman | Valencia College. [online] Available at: <https://valenciacollege.edu/students/disputes/ombudsman.php> [Accessed 25 February 2022].