The university’s Ombuds Officer serves both staff and students, providing advice on issues and difficult situations related to studying or working at the University of Twente. The Ombuds Officer’s primary role is to lend a sympathetic ear, and to provide advice, guidance and mediation services. If necessary, the Ombuds Officer can refer people to the appropriate authority, or the Officer may decide to investigate the matter personally. The Ombuds Officer is impartial and does not report to any other authority.
Aside from the University of Twente, three other Dutch universities are participating in the Ombuds Officer pilot project. This pilot project stems from a series of agreements reached between trade unions and employers. The aim is to provide a safe environment for work and study at the university. On 15 October 2019, the University of Twente appointed Han Warmelink as Ombuds Officer for a period of two years.
The position of Ombuds Officer complements the current confidential counsellors, complaints committee, student psychologists, study advisors and the student counsellor. The Ombuds Officer is an impartial and independent individual who is readily available to both university staff and students. People can approach the Ombuds Officer to ask questions on a wide range of topics or to report issues such as unacceptable behaviour, complaints, appointments, performance/assessments, workload, termination of employment, vocational rehabilitation and switching jobs.
Various new regulations and policies have been adopted recently that are aimed at promoting a safe working and study environment. You will find them on this webiste.
New documentation includes the student charter that was signed last year: the ‘Support and Aftercare protocol for personnel and students’, the ‘Code of conduct on (sexual) harassment, intimidation, aggression, violence and discrimination,’ and the ‘Code of conduct for Personal Relationships in the Workplace.’
A welfare survey has been conducted among UT employees in recent months. The results show that employees are dedicated and committed to the university. The survey also revealed that workloads have significantly increased in the last four years and that that more UT employees experience an excessive workload than two years ago. The balance between work involvement and work pressure appears fragile and requires serious attention from the university board and management. Among others, for this reason the Executive Board has decided to participate in the new pilot project and to appoint a university Ombuds Officer. The Board also plans to carefully examine a recently published report on the subject of healthy practices in the Dutch PhD system and work on shaping the university’s own action plan for tackling heavy workloads (in Dutch).