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University ombudsman

 

In the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities 2020 (CAO NU), the parties agreed that, based on the results of the final evaluation of the ombudsman role pilot, an ombudsman would be appointed at all the universities. The VSNU and employees' organisations have made arrangements on embedding the university's ombudsman role at all fourteen universities.

 

National framework for the setting up of the university ombudsman role

Based on the final evaluation, performed by SoFoKleS , the VSNU and employees' organisations have jointly adopted recommendations. These have been translated into a national framework for the organisation of the university ombudsman role. It is preferred that the system that is set up for the ombudsman role be as uniform as possible. However, local leeway will still be required to ensure it fits into the existing university structure. At the administrative level, the VSNU has emphasised that the universities must have sufficient leeway with regard to the details, for example where it concerns the extent of the ombudsperson's field of activity. The national framework provides sufficient leeway for this.


Final evaluation pilot
SoFoKleS evaluated the national university ombudsman role pilot in May through June of this year. The results have been laid down in a final report . The report not only focused on the ombudsman offices at the four pilot universities, but also on the needs and wishes of the other institutions. In its evaluation, SoFoKleS looked into the careful embedding of the ombudsman role in the institutions' systems, as well as into the duties and accessibility of the ombudsperson.


Flowchart complaints/reports
Clear communication about the role of the ombudsman is very important. Universities have an extensive care and assistance structure, with various persons and agencies that staff and students can turn to in undesirable situations, such as confidential advisers, (student) psychologists and study counsellors. Therefore, clear information on where students and staff can go in which situations is important. For that reason, a sector-level flowchart of complaints/reports has been created, showing where you can go if you have a complaint or wish to file a report. In the enclosed flowchart, each institution can complete the third page with its own procedures, and use it in its communications.


Follow-up
The CAO NU 2020 stipulates that all universities are to have an ombudsman office as of 1 July 2021. The universities are to set up the university ombudsman office at their own institution, based on the national framework.


In principle, the broad outlines for setting up the ombudsman office for personnel are to be discussed in real and open consultation during the Local Consultation, unless, on the basis of existing local agreements, the internal participation body has been designated for consultations at a single consultation table. If, in addition, an ombudsman office for students is set up, this will be discussed by either the University Council or the Student Council.


The VSNU will set up a consultation with the file coordinators of all universities to monitor the implementation process. This consultation with file coordinators serves to both exchange experiences and assist in the resolution of remaining issues.