Session 3 C

Dealing with Student Issues on a National and Institutional Basis: Reconciling the Irreconcilable?

Time: Time: Tuesday 10:15 AM – 11:25 AM

Presenter(s): Josef Leidenfrost, Founder and Principal, Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture; Natalie Sharpe, Director of Office of the Student Ombuds and President of the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons (ACCUO), University of Alberta  Learn more about these presenters by visiting the presenter page.

Level: Established 


Higher education institutions in Austria as well as in Canada and their students are either catered for by local ombuds or by the Austrian Student Ombudsman at the Higher Education Ministry in Austria or the provincial ombuds in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario. The Austrian academic conflict management system applies the so-called “Innsbruck Descriptors” in handling the incoming issues. Canadian higher education institutions have their own specific regulations. Main concerns of all mentioned are jurisdictional challenges within the handling of individual cases as they come up and are presented to both institutions (local and national/provincial ombuds). Interpretations of the law might differ (widely) in the provinces and in the capital. In British Columbia and Ontario, provincial ombuds offices oversee and cooperate with the work of local ombuds of the respective higher education institutions in those two provinces. The two speakers, from a Canadian public university and from the national student ombuds office for Austria, will talk about issues subject to the same respective laws. They will report on how they dealt with the issues brought forward to them and how and why they eventually suggested changes in national or provincial legislation or on an institutional basis. The audience is invited to share their experiences in similar situations as they might arise within their respective higher education systems.

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn about jurisdictional challenges in handling two levels of higher education complaints at the local institutional and national/provincial central levels.
  2. Comparative examination of jurisdiction challenges in handling higher education complaints in two countries.
  3. Developing best practices in solving jurisdictional challenges in higher education complaints.
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