Ombudsperson

Having an (independent) ombudsperson at Dutch universities – WUR included- is new. An ombudsperson at the university contributes to creating a structurally safer work and study environment. In the case of WUR, the ombudsperson also covers Wageningen Research.

The ombudsperson for employees and students (also PhD-students) identifies and advises on overarching trends in the domain of social security from an independent and authoritative position. Although the ombudsperson is aware of individual cases, they do not handle (individual) issues that have already been addressed or that fall within the scope of specific committees.

Question: I have a problem, conflict or dilemma. How should I proceed?

Answer:

A safe work and study environment means being able to address issues. Room to discuss problems, dilemmas and conflicts from a problem-solving perspective. For employees, the supervisor is responsible for solving such situations. For students, the responsibility for a solution depends on the type of complaint or issue. WUR has a broad support system for employees  and students that helps foster a pleasant work and study environment. For example, confidential counsellors, student counsellors, student psychologists and PhD advisors, trainings, occupational social workers, the health and safety service and HR. Moreover, there are several complaint and appeal procedures in place that staff and students can deploy if they have a complaint about their (legal) position or in cases of undesired behaviour

Question: What purpose does the WUR ombudsperson serve?

Answer:

The ombudsperson is a low-threshold provision for (groups) of employees and (groups) of students experiencing problems in their work/study environment that may give rise to questions, dilemmas and conflicts. The ombudsperson provides independent and impartial advice, mediation, referral within the support structure or further investigation. This applies to situations in which a student or staff member feels they are being treated unfairly or unjustly by Wageningen University & Research representatives or officials.

Question: How can the ombudsperson help me?

Answer:

The ombudsperson is independent, impartial and confidential and may commission or conduct research and advise (both solicited and unsolicited) on structural issues and malpractices in the work/study place.

· The ombudsperson may support (groups of) students or employees in analysing and solving issues, dilemmas and conflicts related to work or study when the dialogue within the standing organisation is thwarted.

· The ombudsperson is not an additional entity added to the existing complaints and appeals options that are already in place, nor a replacement for parties focused on individual cases.  The ombudsperson is an independent party that can mediate between parties and can reveal ineffective patterns in the corporate culture related to social safety. More information is provided in the WUR Ombudsperson Provision and the National framework university ombudspersons.

Question: Where can I find the WUR Ombudsperson provision?

The WUR Ombudsperson Provision and the National framework university ombudspersons are found here:

1. Ombudsperson Regulations

2. National framework for filling university ombudsperson role

Question: Who is the WUR ombudsperson, and how can they be reached?

Answer:

· Email: ombudsperson@wur.nl

· Mobile number: 0628043302 / Landline: 0317486079

· About ombudsperson Jacqueline Schoone: “I work for both WU and WR as an ombudsperson.” On her motivation, she comments: “Freedom is my key personal value and motivates me in this role: the freedom to be who you are, to say what you want in an encouraging and challenging environment that fosters collaboration and commitment and where work pressure is balanced.

Freedom is not “doing whatever you please”. Freedom is about taking responsibility for what happens within the academic community. A climate where agreements are honoured and procedures are transparent. If this climate is absent, fear is the result. Fear to take initiatives and to address issues. In my role, I help people come closer together. I ensure people are heard and issues are addressed, and, when needed, I get to the bottom of issues. I have an independent and neutral role and am thus able to investigate issues without impediment and offer recommendations. This is where my other side comes into play: my ability to observe with delicacy and my drive to really change.”