The University of Western Ontario


Annual Report
of the
Office of the Ombudsperson

Submitted to the Coordinating Committee for the Office of the Ombudsperson October 2002


The Office of the Ombudsperson



This report covers the period from August 1, 2001 to July 31, 2002. The number and type of case seen during the period are summarized in tables at the end of the report . Issues discussed include decision making; problems affecting international students; bullying; the difficulty of assessing outcomes; and the turnaround time in cases. It is important to note here that we are committed to maintaining confidentiality of all personal information. Whenever a case is discussed, we disguise some details so that no one (except possibly the individuals themselves) will be able to recognize the case.

Ombudsman work at Western involves making recommendations throughout the year about student situations, about policies and procedures, and about practices. This report contains six broad recommendations about practices, as well as a list of strategies on dealing with bullies, addressed to academic administrators.

After a decline in the number of cases last year, we were not surprised to see an increase this year (about 13%). The increase was greatest in Arts (44%), Education (50%), Engineering (27%), and Graduate Studies (111%). Usage by Affiliated College students increased, too: Huron (150%) and King's (37%). These percentages make it appear as if the increases are huge, when in fact all the numbers are relatively small. Education, with the smallest usage numbers of those mentioned, went from 6 students (2000-01) to 9 students this year.

Why do the usage figures fluctuate so? Sometimes there is a problem in an area - for example, the unit discussed in last year's report from which we had seen a number of students. But usually the fluctuations are related to communication patterns, not problems. Students tell each other about the service; or faculty roles change, changing the referral pattern. Students who respond to our intake sheet question about being referred to us indicate that they are referred:

  • by another student: 31% of the time
  • by a faculty member or academic counsellor: 24% of the time
  • by other UWO or Affiliated College staff: 26% of the time
  • by a family member: 10% of the time

Data about usage of the Ombuds Office website indicate that usage increased more than 30% last year, while the number of email contacts from the website nearly tripled.

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