A Word About the Association

The Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons (ACCUO) is a bilingual and independent association dedicated to promoting and fostering an understanding and appreciation of the role of an Ombudsperson within universities and colleges across Canada and to support its members through networking, education and professional development opportunities.

Full membership is open to anyone fulfilling an Ombudsperson function in a post-secondary institution in Canada in a manner that is consistent with the ACCUO Constitution.  Associate membership is open to anyone interested in the Ombudsperson profession.

Through our presence in the field of higher education, Ombudspersons strive to promote fair and respectful learning and working environments.

We are committed to the fundamental principles of independence, impartiality, confidentiality and accessibility in the practice of our profession.

Quick facts about ACCUO

What is the role of the Association?

  • Foster an understanding of the ombuds function
  • Act as a central source of information for current and potential ombuds offices
  • Provide support and professional development for its members
  • Sponsor research on issues of interest and concern to its members
  • Represent the professional interests of its members
  • Promote the ombudperson role in Canadian universities and colleges

What does a college or university ombudsperson do?

  • Investigates complaints of unfair treatment in an impartial and objective manner
  • Is concerned with the right of every person to be treated fairly
  • Has the power to recommend solutions when complaints are well-founded
  • When complaints are unfounded, explains why
  • Acts as a source of information and advice on rules and procedures
  • Helps to identify systemic problems and weaknesses in institutional policy and practice

What are the main characteristics of an ombudsperson?

  • Non-adversarial approach to the resolution of conflicts
  • Helps to resolve problems informally and quickly, at no cost to the complainant
  • Acts in confidence
  • Acts independently of other departments, units and associations on campus

Why create an ombudsperson office?

  • To conveys the institution’s commitment to being fair o promotes a constructive approach to conflict resolution
  • To help avoid long and costly litigation
  • To help formal processes run more smoothly
  • to provide a user-friendly source of information about policies, rights and avenues of redress
  • To help identify policy weaknesses and gaps in the system

Quick facts about Canadian Educational ombudsperson offices?

  • Over 30 Canadian universities and colleges have an ombuds office
  • Roughly two thirds serve students only; the remainder serve faculty, staff and students
  • More than three quarters are governed by a mandate or terms of reference o more than three quarters produce an annual report
  • More than a third have been in existence for at least 10 years
  • Ombudspersons come from a variety of disciplines and are highly committed to their work