Three ENOHE Internships: Guests from Portugal, Turkey and Poland at the Austrian Student Ombudsperson

Student Ombuds from three different institutions and countries have visited the Office of the Austrian Student Ombudsperson during March, April and May for study visits within the framework of ENOHE Internships.

Jorge Ribeiro Pereira, from University of Beira Interior (UBI) in Covilhã, Portugal, visited the Vienna office late March. He is the new student ombudsman of UBI and he was elected for this position by the General Council. Jorge is medical doctor by academic background.

Jorge’s main interests were the office’s legal position, its human resources, data keeping and reporting. He also made a field trip to the University of Olomouc (UO) in the Czech Republic where he met with Michaela Antonín Malaníková and Jaroslav Šotola, the two student ombudspersons of the Faculty of Philosophy of the František Palacký at UO. Together they talked about the necessities of training activities for ENOHE members and other colleagues active in complaint and relationships management at higher education institutions. Jorge also met with the Austrian National Students Union and the Austrian Rector’s Conference.

Gizem Güray, the student ombudswoman of Altinbas University, based in Istanbul, Turkey, was the next visitor to Vienna in early May. Altinbas University is a private university with a high percentage of international students. Gizem is BA graduate in public administration and has a lot of experiences in international cooperation and exchange between universities. She was appointed the first student ombudsperson by Altınbaş University in 2019.

During her internship Gizem made a visit to the Vienna based Modul Private University where she met with the president of the Austrian Private Universities Conference Karl Wöber. Yet another visit brought her to the Vienna Technical University where she meet with Jasmin Gründling-Riener and Bernhard Koller from the Admission Department talking about the procedures for the admission of and services for international students. At the ministerial Ombuds Office Gizem also discussed record in-taking and keeping and which database system is used.

In late May, Bartłomiej Bartek Chludziński from Torun University in Poland also visited the Austrian Student Ombudsperson Office. Legal possibilities for actions by the Student Ombudsperson Office and its effectiveness were of special interest to the Polish colleague who is a lawyer and also teaching negotiation and mediation techniques and administrative law at his university.

During Bartłomiej’s stay a special field trip to Linz was organized and the three existing student ombudsperson’s offices visited there, the one at Johannes-Kepler University (meeting Sonja Falkner-Matzinger), the one at the Anton-Bruckner Private University for Music, Dance and Preforming Arts (meeting Gunther Waldeck) and last but not least the one at the Catholic Private University Linz (meeting Franz Hubmann). Among the topics Bartek was especially interested in a comparison of working methods, the frequency of issues and their (non)solutions and the processes of how the respective student ombuds had come into their positions. A visit to the Vienna Economics University (meeting Christoph Schwarzl) and to the Conflict Resolution Office of Vienna University (meeting Christian Albert) concluded Bartek´s visit to Vienna.

All three study visits had been carried out under the Erasmus+ Program. The main intentions of this initiative funded by the European Commission are enabling and supporting students in doing internships abroad, but also administrative and operational staff of higher education institutions to share their knowledge and experiences, especially on learning about innovation and support for policy reforms.

Student Ombuds are becoming more and more important within higher education governance in general as the European Higher Education Area ministers had stated in their Rome Communiqué in November 2020. The internships carried out under the ENOHE umbrella are essential contributions to ENOHE´s general aims on learning from each other and sharing expertise among colleagues as mentioned in ENOHE’s five years strategic plan 2021-2025.