The Office of the Student Ombud is staffed by one Student Ombud and three Assistant Student Ombuds, who are assisted by the Administration Manager. All Ombuds are academics selected for their ability to listen, understand the rules and procedures that affect students, and investigate problems fairly and thoroughly.
If you believe you are being treated unfairly, please refer to the process below in raising your complaint.
Exhaust all alternative avenues of complaint
The Office of the Student Ombud is an office of last resort. Under the Terms of Reference students are required to exhaust all other avenues of complaint and appeal available before seeking the help of the Office. This means that you should make a complaint to the Student Complaints Resolution Office by emailing email@example.com before approaching the Office of the Student Ombud.
Procedures for two common complaints are outlined here:
Contacting the Office of the Student Ombud
The Office is open on a part-time basis. Your first contact will be with the Administration Manager, who can then refer you to an Ombud. The most convenient method of contact is by email.
Making your complaint
The office and the Student Ombud communicate with students via email, phone calls and face to face appointments. Before contacting the Office of meeting with a Student Ombud, think about your preferred outcome. When you are put in contact with a Student Ombud they may ask questions about what you would like to achieve.
Provide copies of all supporting documents related to your matter in your initial complaint. This may include copies of forms submitted, subject outlines, and copies of correspondence including emails.
The Office of the Student Ombud will advise you if your complaint is within the Terms of Reference. If so, the Office or the Student Ombud will provide details of what may be done and how long the investigation may take. If not, the Student Ombud will likely refer you to other services that may be useful.
To proceed with a complaint where the complaint is within the Terms of Reference:
- Decide what you would like the Office of the Student Ombud to do for you.
- Complete a Request for Assistance form (PDF, 35kB).
- Provide all relevant information and documentation to the Office of the Student Ombud, including a referral from the Student Complaints Resolution Office and/or a final letter explaining why your complaint handler is taking no further action.
The Student Ombud allocated your matter will then review your complaint in detail, and will discuss it with you.
If the Student Ombud believes it is appropriate, they will begin an investigation of your complaint.
Throughout the investigation we will keep you informed of progress. You should contact the Office if any new information arises or if you have queries about the progress of the complaint.
The Student Ombud will usually talk with all parties involved to ensure that all views are heard and all facts are known. We attempt to help solve complaints fairly and informally and we do not act as an advocate for either side in a dispute.
The investigation timeframe can vary, ranging from a few days for minor complaints, to several months for more complex matters.
Once the Student Ombud has an outcome you will be informed of the recommendation. This may include a finding that the complaint is not within the Terms of Reference or that the University processes, procedures, rules or policies have been properly followed.
The Student Office cannot guarantee your complaint will be resolved in the way you wish. If it is found that you were treated unfairly, the Student Ombud will seek to redress the disadvantage. If the investigation shows that a decision was appropriate the Student Ombud will help you to understand the reasons behind the decision.
If in the opinion of the Student Ombud appropriate action has not been taken in response to a recommendation, a written report may be made to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (see further 4.1.2 of the Terms of Reference).
If you are unsatisfied with the findings of the Student Ombud, you are also entitled by law to lodge a complaint to the NSW Ombudsman (opens an external site). International students can also complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman (opens external site). There is no cost for either of these services.
Ongoing structural problems
It may be that your complaint reveals a systemic problem in the University. If so, the Office will work with those responsible to help rectify the issue.
A student's complaint can result in changes that positively affect the situation of other students even when their own particular case seems unsuccessful. Even if you feel that there is not much chance of fixing your problem you might still want to approach the Student Ombud to make sure that a particular practice does not continue and other students do not end up with the same problems.