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What complaints are trending in HE? Part 1

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EN | 2 min

An important part of the work of a higher education ombuds is identifying trends, so individuals and institutions can actively take steps to prevent or manage key issues.  Not surprisingly, COVID19 has made a huge impact on complaints – for example, university students in England and Wales made a record number of complaints in 2020  . For this week and next we are sharing what we are seeing as top complaints trends for 2021/2022, starting with COVID19-related issues:

1. Lack of clarity around COVID19 policies / COVID19 policies that are evolving 

  • Masks / vaccine passports to be on campus : “It isn’t fair that I have to wear a mask in class.  I shouldn’t have to since I’ve been vaccinated.” “Can’t I just give you proof that I did a Covid test? It’s unfair that I have to jump through so many hoops as a student.”
  • PPE & testing (who supplies, who pays, who participates): “I asked for mandatory COVID testing and special air filters for my lab because there is such poor ventilation.  It is unfair that we are at greater risk because of where we have to work!”
  • Exceptions: “It’s just not fair that they get an exception and I don’t.”

2. Academic ripple effects of COVID19

  • Academic activities abroad: “I need a vaccination passport and testing to go abroad for my research/internship in Winter 2022 and travel costs are now through the roof. What happens to my degree if this all falls apart?”
  • Academic accommodations: “I asked if I could re-write an exam that I failed.  It  isn’t my fault that the prerequisite course was taught so badly online because of COVID.  It’s unfair that the instructor said ‘No’.” 
  • 2020/2021 as a lost year: “Last year my practicum was cancelled because of COVID.  It is so unfair – no one is helping me figure out how to get back on track – they clearly want me to give up.”

In our next post we talk about the equity related complaint trends we are observing. What complaints are trending on your campus?

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