University Council wants more visibility from ombudsman

| Rense Kuipers

If it is up to the Executive Board and the University Council, the UT will continue with the ombudsperson in the same way. The council was predominantly positive, but also critical about the visibility of the ombudsperson.

Photo by: RIKKERT HARINK
UT ombuds officer Han Warmelink.

Since the autumn of 2019, UT has had an ombuds official in the person of Han Warmelink. The UT was one of four universities participating in a two-year pilot. It was known that the ombuds function would be retained and that this was established in the Collective Labour Agreement (cao) as of 1 July this year. The University Council was able to advise the Executive Board this morning as to what form this function would take.

The verdict: there is nothing to stop things continuing as they are. The UT has one ombuds official for both staff and students. Although the council advised the Executive Board to remain critical of such a dual role, the council also clearly sees its advantages. For example, in identifying patterns and overlaps in problems, but according to the council, the ombudsperson must make a distinction between students and staff members when reporting.

The most important remark of the council: the visibility and findability of the ombudsperson. 'The fact that many respondents during the evaluation indicated that they did not know of the existence of an ombuds official at UT since the end of 2019 is worrying,' said Emile Dopheide (Campus Coalition). 'We would therefore like to see a proactive attitude from the ombuds officer. Visibility is not only making sure there is enough information online, but also asserting yourself within the faculties and services.'

Mirjam Bult, vice-president of the Executive Board, underlined the importance of visibility. 'We are happy with the support for this new role in the academic community. Initially, there was some hesitation from the sector about the position, but I think that we as UT have contributed to its acceptance. The fact that other universities are now also adopting an ombudsperson will hopefully contribute to awareness among staff and students about the presence of the position within our support structure.'