Student Ombudsman

Office of the Student Ombudsman

The University of Wollongong is committed to the early and informal resolution of academic complaints. The Student Ombudsman represents a dedicated position that focuses on the independent review of coursework and higher degree research students’ academic complaints. The role of the Student Ombudsman adds value to the University by providing a specialist area that aims to ensure processes are implemented fairly and, where necessary, improved. The Office of the Student Ombudsman provides a place for impartial and confidential review of these matters. As a student you can expect to be treated respectfully, to be given a fair hearing and to receive equitable treatment.   

What is the Student Ombudsman's Role?

The role of the Student Ombudsman is to independently review undergraduate, postgraduate and higher degree research (HDR) student academic complaints that have not been resolved informally or through the formal Faculty level process. The Student Ombudsman is also responsible for the independent review of student academic misconduct appeals; students may appeal against the finding of a Faculty Investigation Committee if the appeal is based on a lack of due process or if there is new and substantial evidence that has not previously been considered. As Chair of the Coursework Exclusion Appeals Committee, the Student Ombudsman continues to oversee the Stage 2 Coursework Student Course Progress appeals process.

The Student Ombudsman's Terms of Reference can be found here.

 Who is the Student Ombudsman?

Margaret Wallace

 Associate Professor Margaret Wallace is the Student Ombudsman.

Margaret has worked at UOW for over 20 years as a Sub Dean, a Course Coordinator and also as an Academic Developer.  She has led a number of projects including those on Assessment Moderation and the Development of a Course Coordinator (APD) Role Statement and been involved in educational research, including a national project on academic integrity.. She is committed to supporting the quality of the student learning experience by offering timely, fair and well-considered outcomes for student academic complaints that cannot be resolved at Faculty level. 

More recently, Margaret has provided curriculum expertise in Learning, Teaching and Curriculum, a role which she will continue on a part-time basis.

 What is an Academic Complaint?

An academic complaint is a complaint concerning a decision, act or omission of a member of UOW staff or committee that affects a student's academic experience. 

When CAN I Lodge an Academic Complaint with the Student Ombudsman?

Coursework Student Academic Complaints - Stage 2 Review by Student Ombudsman

You need to have lodged a formal academic complaint with your Faculty in the first instance and have completed Stage 1A and Stage 1B of the formal Faculty complaints process i.e. a review by the Head of School (Stage 1a) and a review by the Faculty Designate (Stage 1b).   If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint on the basis that:

  1. you do not believe the outcome of Stage 1  is supported by the available evidence;
  2. due process has not been adhered to by the Faculty; or
  3. relevant new or additional information is now available that was not available at Stage 1A and 1B.

you may appeal to the Student Ombudsman within ten (10) working days of the date you receive the outcome of your Stage 1B review by the Faculty Designate. 

For Higher Degree Research (HDR) Student Academic Complaints

You must lodge a formal academic complaint with your Faculty in the first instance and complete Stage 1 of the formal Faculty complaints process.   If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint on the basis that:

  1. you do not believe the outcome of Stage 1 of the process is supported by the available evidence;
  2. due process has not been adhered to by the Faculty; or
  3. relevant new or additional information is now available that was not available at Stage 1.

you may appeal to the Student Ombudsman within twenty (20) working days of the date you receive the outcome of your Stage 1 review by the Faculty Designate. 

Information on how to lodge an academic complaint can be found here  

What are the Possible Outcomes of an Appeal to the Student Ombudsman? 

A number of outcomes are possible after all relevant documents have been examined and following interviews with the student and other relevant parties. The Student Ombudsman may determine that:

  • the matter will go no further if there are insufficient grounds for the complaint; or
  • a basis for negotiation exists between the student and relevant parties; or
  • due process has not been followed in which case a resolution involving the Faculty will be reached.

For Undergraduate or Postgraduate Coursework academic complaints, you will be notified of the Student Ombudsman's decision within twenty (20) working days and, where relevant, of the process for continuing your appeal.

Higher Degree Research academic complaints can often be more complex and, consequently, the Student Ombudsman may take some time to thoroughly investigate a matter.  You will be regularly updated on the progress of your complaint, notified of the Student Ombudsman's decision in a judicious manner and, where relevant, of the process for continuing your appeal

Where Can I Find the Student Ombudsman?

The Student Ombudsman's Office is located in Room 19.G003 (Building 19, Ground Floor, north-east wing).  Office hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.00pm.

Email enquires: student-ombudsman@uow.edu.au

 

 

 

Ombud's news archives

Ombud's News June 2015 - What does the Student Ombudsman do?

Ombud's News September 2015 - Meet the Complaints & Appeals Administrator

Ombud's News Autumn 2016

Ombud's News Autumn 2017 - Meet the new Student Ombudsman

 

Last reviewed: 1 November, 2018