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Ombudsperson

Staff and students can turn to the ombudsperson when there is a need for independent, impartial and confidential investigation, including advice or mediation, in connection with their work or study at the UvA. This might be when they've encountered problems in the cooperation between individuals or conflicts in the workplace, when undesired behaviour has become a structural and long-term issue.

The ombudsperson can also assist when staff and students need advice, a referral to the proper authority or someone to mediate or lead a dialogue. As an independent and impartial party, the ombudsperson also handles reports and tips from staff and students, and is authorised to start their own investigations. 

  • Contact the ombudsperson

    Please note that, despite the current corona measures it is still possible to contact the ombudsperson. You can call or email her to arrange an appointment via Skype or Zoom.

    The ombudsperson can provide support with regard to questions, dilemmas or conflicts at work or within a degree programme. That support may consist of a meeting or more in-depth consultation, advice, referral, mediation or the initiation of an independent investigation. All contact with the ombudsperson will be treated as confidential. Your report will be recorded anonymously.

    The Ombudsperson can be contacted in confidence via the following email address and telephone number. 

    T: +31 (0)6 11860520
    E: ombudsfunctionaris@uva.nl

    Maagdenhuis

    Room 0.12

    Spui 21
    1012 WX Amsterdam

  • About Jacqueline Schoone (Ombudsperson until 6 September 2021)
    Potrait of Jacqueline Schoone

    My name is Jacqueline Schoone and my wife, Ingrid, and I live in Amsterdam. I have a background in HR, both in an advisory and managerial capacity. I do this work as a self-employed entrepreneur. For the past two years, I've been involved in in-depth efforts to realise a socially safe work and study climate at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    I not only created policy and integrated an ombudsperson – who began work on 1 June 2019 – into their organisation, but also refined policy with regard to confidential advisers and enhancing cooperation between the people involved in creating a safe work and study climate: the occupational physicians, staff welfare, student deans, diversity officers, HRM and managers. I am bringing that knowledge and experience with me to this position at the UvA.

    Freedom is my number one value, as well as what drives me in this role: the freedom to be who you are and to say what's on your mind, in a supportive and challenging climate that fosters cooperation and involvement and where work pressure is balanced. Freedom doesn't mean ‘being able to do anything that's not expressly forbidden'. Rather, freedom is about taking responsibility for what goes on within the academic community. It's a climate in which commitments are honoured and you can place your trust in transparent rules and procedures.

    In the absence of such a climate, fear grows: fear of showing initiative and fear of speaking up about things that bother you. In my capacity as ombudsman, I help people find their way back to common ground. I make sure their voices are heard; I call attention to problems and, when needed, leave no stone unturned. My role is independent and neutral and allows me to conduct investigations without impediment and then make recommendations accordingly, potentially for the UvA as a whole. And that's when a different side of me emerges: my ability to observe with 'sensitivity’ and my drive to enact real change.

    Interim Ombudsperson  Jacqueline Schoone will stay on in her role until she is replaced by a new, permanent Ombudsperson in September 2021.

  • About Samera Ouchene

    Samera Ouchene will be the UvA’s ombudsperson starting from 6 Semptember 2021. She has been appointed for a period of four years, with the option of being reappointed for two further terms. UvA ombudsperson is a full-time appointment.

    Samera (1977) worked for many years at the Dutch Ministry of Finance. She supervised professionals working together on issues in the fields of enforcement, information management and privacy, and oversight. She was also responsible for the integrity portfolio.

    Samera will introduce herself more fully in September.

  • Working method and tasks

    The ombudsperson carries out his or her work independently, impartially and confidentially. The ombudsperson can choose to conduct an investigation and can advise on structural issues and malpractices within the university. 

    Staff and students can turn to the ombudsperson when there is a need for independent, impartial and confidential investigation, including advice or mediation, in connection with their work or study at the UvA. This might be when they've encountered problems in the cooperation between individuals or conflicts in the workplace, when undesired behaviour has become a structural and long-term issue.

    The ombudsperson can also assist when staff and students need advice, a referral to the proper authority or someone to mediate or lead a dialogue. As an independent and impartial party, the ombudsperson also handles reports and tips from staff and students, and is authorised to start their own investigations. 

    Tasks:

    • To advise (and potentially refer) staff and students, individually or in groups, with regard to a stated question, dilemma or conflict
    • To adequately escalate and de-escalate to the proper authorities, primarily within the UvA itself, but to external authorities when called for
    • To conduct investigations and make recommendations based on their outcomes
    • To facilitate and re-open dialogue between parties within the organisational structures designated for that purpose, potentially by providing mediation
    • To explore and describe the behavioural culture, to encourage open discussion of this culture and to take action to improve it
    • To identify and report any systemic shortcomings in regulations or organisational structure
    • To advise the Executive Board and the managers who are in a position to take action in response to the reported issue
    • To publish and report on observations and finding via public media
    • To draft a public report

    As acting ombudsperson, Jacqueline Schoone coordinated the procedure to permanently appoint someone to this position.

    During this period she investigated how the ombudsperson can best function in relation to the existing service facilities for discussing and dealing with complaints submitted to the UvA, i.e. the Complaints Committee, diversity officers, confidential adviser on individual legal status, confidential adviser for undesirable behaviour, staff welfare, occupational physicians, student deans and student psychologists.

  • Evaluation

    In 2024, the Executive Board and representative advisory bodies will conduct an evaluation that will lead to a decision regarding whether or not to continue the position. In doing so, we will evaluate not only the ombudsperson job position itself, but also the clarity of the assigned tasks and cooperation with the other relevant actors within the domain of social safety.

  • Shared responsibility

    The ombudsperson contributes to increasing trust in the university community with regard to social safety. Our ability to realise a safe and diverse study and work environment depends on many different factors, and an ombudsperson can important contribution to this.