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When things go wrong

Terms of reference

1. Appointment

1.1 The Council of the University shall appoint a person to be Student Ombud and may appoint one or more persons as Assistant Student Ombud with the same authority and responsibilities as the Student Ombud, save that of the management of the Office of Student Ombud.

1.2 The Student Ombud and Assistant Student Ombud shall be responsible to the member of senior University management nominated by the Vice-Chancellor.

2. Authority to Enquire

2.1 The Student Ombud has the authority to conduct inquiries relating to complaints by registered students against decisions or conduct of staff, Committees, Boards or any unit or group either within the University or acting under the authority or auspices of the University.

2.2 On receipt of a written complaint signed by a registered student or a person who was a registered student at the time of the conduct complained of, the Student Ombud shall have authority to enquire into that complaint.

2.3 The Student Ombud may, for any reason including possible conflict of interests, refer a complaint to an Assistant Student Ombud.

2.4 On receipt of a complaint, the Student Ombud shall decide, by enquiry if necessary, whether or not the complaint falls within the role and functions of the Student Ombud. The complaint shall be dismissed if the Student Ombud is of the opinion that:

2.4.1 the complaint is frivolous, trivial, or not in good faith;

2.4.2 the complainant has an insufficient interest in the matter;

2.4.3 the conduct complained of occurred at too remote a time to justify investigation;

2.4.4 in relation to the conduct complained of there is available to the complainant an alternative and satisfactory means of redress;

2.4.5 in disputes involving the assessment of a student's academic performance, the Student Ombud shall normally investigate the complaint only if the complainant has attempted other avenues available under University regulations and procedures. The role of the Student Ombud shall normally be confined to being satisfied that the procedures of assessment for the course(s) in question have been followed and are reasonable in all the circumstances;

2.4.6 the conduct complained of is not of a character that concerns the University within its functions, responsibilities and powers as defined in the University Act, By-law, Rules, and policies.

Where the complaint has been dismissed by the Student Ombud, the complainant shall be informed of the reasons for the decision.

2.5 If during an investigation being carried out by the Student Ombud it becomes known that the complaint is the subject matter of a hearing or appeal under the University Act or By-law, the Student Ombud shall proceed no further with investigating the complaint until the hearing or appeal has been concluded.

2.6 The Student Ombud shall be given access to all University records and documents relating to the complaint.

3. Conduct of Complaint

3.1 The Student Ombud shall decide the form and procedures to be adopted in investigating a complaint. All persons involved shall be given reasonable opportunity to explain their views and encouraged to reach agreement.

3.2 If the complaint is not settled by informal consultation and discussion the Student Ombud may proceed with the inquiry by methods such as:

3.2.1 providing a written copy of the complainant's statement to the person(s) against whom the complaint has been made; or

3.2.2 at the request of either the complainant or the person(s) complained against, or in any case where the Student Ombud deems it desirable, convening a conference to discuss the complaint.

3.3 Where the Student Ombud believes that during an inquiry a situation arises which requires attention to avoid further problems, the Student Ombud may make recommendations to any appropriate person.

3.4 Where the Student Ombud believes that during an investigation there arises a matter of principle affecting other sectors of the University, the Student Ombud may submit to the member of senior University management nominated by the Vice-Chancellor a written interim report. In such a case, the Student Ombud shall inform the relevant persons that such a report has been made and shall indicate to them what, if anything, has been recommended.

4. Report of Investigation

4.1 At the conclusion of an inquiry, if in the opinion of the Student Ombud:

4.1.1 the complaint has been settled, no further action will be taken other than under 5 below; or

4.1.2 the complaint has not been settled, a written report may be made to the member of senior University management nominated by the Vice-Chancellor (or Vice Chancellor or Chancellor in appropriate cases) and to the persons involved; the Student Ombuds views on the matter and recommendations would normally be included. In such a case, persons involved shall be informed that they may make a submission in writing to the member of senior University management nominated by the Vice-Chancellor (or Vice-Chancellor or Chancellor in appropriate cases); or

4.1.3 the complaint warrants no further action, or no further action can be taken, the Student Ombud may decline to proceed further.

5. The Student Ombud may bring to the attention of the member of senior University management nominated by the Vice-Chancellor any matter:

(i) arising from an enquiry; or

(ii) any matter relating to processes, procedures, rules or policies of the University.