The Ombudsman’s Office may be called upon in the event of a conflict situation involving students or employees which cannot be solved through direct dialogue. The Ombudsman’s Office is in particular the best place to obtain rapid help when there is a situation of dependency between the parties to the conflict. The work of the Ombudsman’s Office is independent from the university in terms of both staff and organisation.
The Ombudsman’s Office is governed by paragraph 25a of the University Statute:
1 The university maintains an Ombudsman’s Office run by one or more representatives.
2 University employees and students can turn to the Ombudsman’s Office to request mediation in situations of conflict with university members.
3 The Ombudsman’s Office advises the employees and students it receives, and strives to reach an amicable settlement.
The Ombudsman’s Office supplements the existing advice centres and points of contact for students and employees.
The Ombudsman’s Office mediates in conflict situations between university members which cannot be solved via direct contact. The Ombudsman’s Office in particular comes into play where compliance with applicable regulations is being contested and the two parties involved are in a situation of dependency. The Ombudsman’s Office is independent. It can call in other specialists if necessary.
The Ombudsman’s Office deals with all parties to a conflict in an impartial manner. The recommendations made are the result of clarifications and are not based on personal views.
The ombudsman and those working for or with him are obliged to maintain confidentiality. All information will be treated as confidential. Nothing will be undertaken without the express consent of the person making contact.
The work of the Ombudsman’s Office is independent of the University’s Executive Board and Faculties.
The ombudsman provides the University Council with an annual report on his work.
Examples of potential cases of conflict for the Ombudsman’s Office:
- Assistants are experiencing difficulties with the professor’s support for their personal qualification
- Employees feel that their superiors are not acting in the interests of the university and within its guidelines
- Professors find themselves in situations of conflict within the faculty which cannot be resolved
- Deans find themselves in situations of conflict with central positions or with the rector
- Students find themselves in situations of conflict with the aforementioned individuals and positions (excluding disagreements regarding the assessment and grading of examinations)
In accordance with the memorandum and principles and Code of Good Practice for Scientific Integrity of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences (SAW, 2008), every research institution should name an ombudsman who serves as an independent point of contact in the event of suspected cases of scientific misconduct, and provides advice and arbitration. Examples of potential cases of conflict for the Ombudsman's Office in the sphere of scientific conduct may include the following:
- Researchers, e.g. doctoral students, are not being given appropriate consideration as regards authorship or quotations
- In the event of unjustified authorship
- In the event of plagiarism of university employees
- In the event of fabricated or falsified research findings
- If the duty of confidentiality is breached
The Ombudsman’s Office advises the employees and students it receives and attempts to mediate the parties to a conflict. It strives to reach amicable arrangements. The Ombudsman’s Office has no decision-making authority.
The Ombudsman’s Office does not have jurisdiction to review decisions regarding which there is disagreement if said decisions have been reached in accordance with applicable procedures and regulations. An example of this would be if a course is not permitted to be run on an official public holiday, the budget credit entered for it was reduced and a lectureship applied for was not granted. However, the Ombudsman’s Office may be approached if those affected believe that decisions were incorrectly reached or not implemented as decided.
The Ombudsman's Office is not able to influence periods for appeal or suspend decrees. It does not replace the appeals procedure.
The Ombudsman’s Office is not competent to handle management issues (coaching for management personnel can be provided by Human Resources if required).
The Ombudsman’s Office is not competent to conduct investigations or apply sanctions relating to scientific misconduct.
Dr. Crispin Hugenschmidt (1974) worked as an assistant and project manager at the University of Basel's Faculty of Law from 1999 to 2000. From 2000 to 2002 he was the Faculty Manager of the Faculty of Law at the University of Lucerne. He also held a lectureship in study and work techniques at the University of Lucerne. From 2002 to 2008 he was a member of the teaching prorectorate executive board and head of the (Bologna) study reforms specialist unit at the University of Zurich. Since 2008 he has been Secretary General of the Department of Education for the Canton of Basel-Stadt.
Dr. Crispin Hugenschmidt has held the subsidiary role of the University of Lucerne Ombudsman since 1 January 2014 and the role as Head of the Reporting Office since 1 May 2021.
The best way to report your concerns to the Ombudsman’s Office is in writing by post. The Ombudsman's Office will get in contact with you to organise an appointment. In urgent cases the office can also be contacted by telephone.
Following an initial meeting, which includes clarifying competences and indicating potential alternative procedures, the Ombudsman’s Office will invite the other parties involved to come in for a discussion in order to establish the complete facts and hear from both sides. Further steps will be determined based on the discussions. These may consist of a further discussion or a mediation proposal.
The involvement of the Ombudsman’s Office generally results in a recommendation identifying a solution designed to enable the parties involved to maintain their relationship. The Ombudsman’s Office does not have the authority to issue directives or orders. The Ombudsman’s Office cannot revoke or amend decisions. The parties involved do not incur any costs for involving the Ombudsman’s Office.
University of Lucerne