The University of Twente’s Ombuds Officer pilot for personnel and students, will start in the coming months. This pilot is part of a broader range of measures and policies and regulations to be implemented or modified, which are all aimed at ensuring a safe work and study environment at our university.
The appointment of an Ombuds Officer is also one of the agreements reached between unions and employers. At least three universities are to launch a pilot ombuds programme.
The Ombuds Officer is an additional position alongside the 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 personnel and students. In addition to providing solicited and unsolicited advice, the Ombuds Officer can also arrange mediation to deal with conflict situations and to settle complaints. The Ombuds Officer is also authorized to conduct investigations. This new position thus truly complements the range of options open to personnel or students who have questions, want to make a report or inquire about current codes, regulations and procedures. Individuals can go to the Ombuds Officer for questions, or to report matters such as unacceptable behaviour, complaints, appointments, performance/assessments, workload, termination of employment, vocational rehabilitation and switching jobs.
The pilot takes two years. The recruitment process for an Ombuds Officer has already commenced and the new officer will be installed on 1 July. An interim evaluation is scheduled to take place in December of 2019 and a final evaluation of the pilot will be conducted in October 2020. More information about the profile and regulations concerning the Ombuds Officer can be found in Dutch on the integrity website.
TU Delft, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Maastricht University have also started similar pilot programmes.
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).