As of January 1, 2016, the Ontario Ombudsman can take complaints about the province’s publicly-funded universities.
What kinds of issues can the Ombudsman help with?
The Ombudsman can review complaints about the administrative actions and decisions of universities. The Ombudsman is an office of last resort. This means that you should try to address your issue through any available complaint or appeal mechanisms before contacting our Office.
The Ombudsman may be able to help with issues such as concerns about financial aid, admissions processes, academic appeals or student services.
The Ombudsman Act states that the Ombudsman shall consider the application of the principles of academic freedom when considering a complaint about a university.
If I have a complaint about a university, what should I do first?
You may be able to resolve your complaint directly with the university. Many Ontario universities have their own ombudsman, or a similar office, that may be able to assist you – and/or processes for dealing with academic appeals or other complaints. You can consult the university’s website for this information. If you are unsure about where to go with your complaint, you are welcome to contact our Office and we will try to point you in the right direction. Please have any relevant documentation available to assist us in directing your complaint.
What should I do if I have a complaint about:
The university student union or student government?
The Ombudsman does not have authority over student unions, which are typically governed by representatives elected by the student body. If you have a complaint about a student union, you should raise your concerns with the student union directly.
I called your office to complain before Bill 8 was in effect. Will you investigate my complaint?
If you made a complaint to our Office before January 1, 2016, you will need to contact us again and we will assess it and any updated information you can provide.
I work for a university and have questions, not complaints. Whom do I contact?
Our Communications team can determine where best to direct your question.
What happens if the university I work for or represent is the subject of a complaint?
An Ombudsman staff member may contact a representative of the university and advise them of the substance of the complaint. The staff member may request information relevant to the complaint and attempt to resolve the issue. If a formal investigation is necessary, the university will receive a written notice and an opportunity to respond. Representatives, officials and staff may also be interviewed and asked to provide documentation in response to the complaint. For the integrity of our process, the Ombudsman’s Office determines which officials we need to contact and/or interview.
What should I do if I am an employee of a university and have a complaint?
The Ombudsman does not replace the role of public sector unions or grievance processes, or interfere in collective bargaining. Employment-related matters should be directed to the relevant union officials or managers first. If you have concerns about wrongdoing at a university, please call our Office so we can see if we can help. Complaints are confidential – we do not identify complainants without their consent.