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Ombuds Process for Doctoral Candidates and Supervisors

The University of Freiburg offers a central ombuds process for all doctoral candidates and dissertation supervisors of the University of Freiburg.

Goals of the Ombuds Process

The purpose of the ombuds process is to resolve conflicts resulting from the relationship between doctoral candidates and their supervisors or work on the dissertation. The ombudspersons and the ombuds assistants provide help and support to those involved in conflicts and help them to find constructive solutions – without exerting influence on the procedure for earning a doctoral degree or the assessment of the achievements involved. In order to create a culture that encourages people to speak openly about problems early on, we have developed a two-level ombuds process.

The Two-Level Process

The guiding principles of the procedure are confidentiality, transparency, and fairness. The procedure is free of charge and can be broken off at the request of the person seeking advice at any time. It is structured as follows:

  1. As a rule, supervisors and doctoral candidates seeking advice and support in (emerging) conflicts resulting from their relationship or work on the dissertation should begin by contacting the ombuds assistants. In addition, they may also contact  the ombudspersons directly. The ombudspersons and the ombuds assistants are bound to maintain secrecy with regard to the information they obtain in an ombuds process. If requested, we also offer anonymous advising.

    If the ombuds assistants are contacted first, they engage the person seeking advice in a discussion of the problem situation and inform them about relevant areas of responsibility as well as options for dealing with the situation. If the conflict can be resolved on the basis of this discussion, the process is terminated. If the conflict cannot be resolved on the basis of this discussion, one of the ombudspersons is called in to have a conversation with the person seeking advice.

    If an ombudsperson is contacted first or if an ombudsperson is contacted after the advising of the ombuds assistants, he or she will discuss the problem situation with the person seeking advice. If the conflict can be resolved on the basis of this discussion, the process is terminated.
     
  2. If the conflict cannot be resolved on the basis of the discussion with the person seeking advice at the first level, at least one of the ombudspersons is called in to moderate a discussion between the parties. Before establishing contact with other persons involved in the conflict, the person seeking advice is asked for his or her written consent and is given a chance to withdraw or reformulate his or her request. If the person does not provide his or her consent, the ombuds process is terminated.

    The ombudspersons attend the discussion between the parties and help them to find and implement a solution. If this discussion does not lead to an amicable resolution of the dispute or if the ombuds process is terminated because the person seeking advice does not consent to have other persons contacted, the ombudspersons may make recommendations to the parties.
     

Office and Ombudspersons

The two ombuds assistants are employees of the IGA. Both of them have experience in conflict consulting (e.g. a training program in mediation in accordance with the guidelines of the Bundesverband Mediation e.V.). The two ombudspersons and their deputies are professors of the University of Freiburg who have been released for their duties or are in retirement.

Ombuds assistants


Ombudspersons and deputies


Further Advising Services

For employees of the University of Freiburg (websites in German)


For matriculated doctoral candidates


For employees of the Medical Center - University of Freiburg (websites in German)


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