The Ombudsperson at University Canada West conducts thorough, confidential, impartial and independent investigations of complaints, seeks fair resolutions and makes recommendations to improve administrative practices for students. The Ombudsperson works to ensure that students are treated fairly in all aspects of university life by responding to student complaints and addressing concerns related to possible breaches of rules of natural justice.

The Ombudsperson is independent of University administration and supervisory structures, and conducts investigations through the impartial, prudent and effective review and analysis of the facts as they pertain to administrative processes and the application of the rules of natural justice.

In their role, the Ombudsperson informs students regarding the avenues available to them to address and resolve their complaints; mediates or intervenes to assist in the resolution of conflicts; and provides advice and recommendations to decision-makers on the fair resolution of complaints. The Ombudsperson is also available to provide information to apprise students of their rights and responsibilities and interprets University regulations, policies and procedures.

Topics the Ombudsperson is available to help with include:

  • Student and supervisor/instructor/professor relationships
  • Abuse of power, bullying or unfair treatment
  • Guidance about which rules, policies or procedures are applicable to specific issues or concerns
  • Concerns raised that a particular rule or policy has been applied unfairly
  • Communication between complainants and a University faculty member, administrator or student
  • University processes and policies

When should you contact the Ombudsperson?

  • When you are not sure where to go or how to get a concern or problem addressed
  • When you are involved in an appeal process and need help understanding the process
  • When you have a conflict or problem that needs help resolving
  • When you believe you have been treated unfairly
  • When you need clarification on your rights and responsibilities as a student
  • When you appreciate the support of an individual during meetings regarding your academic status with University faculty or administrators

To contact the Ombudsperson, please book a virtual, phone or in-person appointment via MS Booking or email [email protected]. If you are reaching out with a specific question regarding notifications from members of the University about the application of policies that impact your status or standing as a student at UCW, please provide these documents in your email.

Please note, the Ombudsperson does not:

  • Act as an advocate; the Ombudsperson must remain impartial
  • Replace existing resources or channels for resolution
  • Intervene when a formal process (appeal, grievance, legal proceeding) has been commenced or overturn/influence decisions
  • Provide counselling or legal advice
  • Decide who is right or wrong
  • Change decisions, policies or regulations; the Ombudsperson can only make recommendations
  • Receive complaints, intervene or assist in matters unrelated to the University

UCW’s Ombudsperson

Annette O’Hara is University Canada West’s full-time Ombudsperson. Annette joins UCW from the University of Victoria where she was Ombudsperson since 2018. Annette has a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies at Mount Royal University and a Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution from the University of Victoria.

As a former BC Public Servant, Annette has worked in various capacities, such as a Case Manager (Civil Resolutions Tribunal), Investigation Officer (BC Ombudspersons Office) and Employment Standards Officer (Employment Standards).

Annette looks forward to working with staff, students and University leadership at UCW in supporting its  operations through the development of best practices and fair and reasonable policy frameworks to produce fair outcomes for students.

Annette can be reached by booking an appointment on MS Booking or at [email protected].