Our university has an Ombudsman (That’s a good point, since not all universities in Melbourne have one). Today, (one of ) the Ombudsman himself, Mr. CP gave a short briefing on the functions of the Ombudsman. It’s a an independent body who hears complaints from the all the homo sapiens population of the university and try conciliate all forms of complaints & grievances based on the university regulations. By independent here I mean, they are not answerable to anyone except the University Council (Hmmm…doesn’t sound too independent, does it?). This year alone they have received 75 formal complaints, the most being last year, at 158 cases.

Anyway, going to an ombudsman with your complaints should always be a last resort. Mr. CP insisted that most of all difficult behaviour stems from a misunderstanding (well, that sounds about right). So it’s better in seeking a solution closer to where the problem started rather than heading straight to the Ombudsman.

For example, when I asked what are the forms of complaints addressed to him involving postgraduate issues, Mr. CP stated that it’s mostly about problems in regard to supervision, a clash of personality and sometimes allegation of plagiarism & fraud. When such issues arise, the complainant must ensure that he/she has exhausted all the relevant authorities in his/her school before filing a complaint with the ombudsman. So one must first see the Course or Research Coordinator, then the Head of department, next in line is the Dean before finally going to the Ombudsman. But according to him, whatever the problem was, we must not ignore or suppress the matter hoping it’ll go away on it’s own. We don’t actually have the luxury of time (and cost) to do such thing. We must act as soon as practicable.

So the next time you have any complaints or grievances, you know where to go…

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