The Office of the University Ombudsman (UO) is established in terms of the Education Act to investigate complaints by students and staff of the University of Malta, ITS and MCAST in respect of actions taken by these Institutions.
The Role of the University Ombudsman
The Office of the University Ombudsman (UO) is established in terms of the Education Act to investigate complaints by students and staff of the University of Malta in respect of actions taken by that University. By way of delegated authority in terms of the Ombudsman Act, the University Ombudsman also investigates analogous complaints involving the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) as well as the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS).
In the exercise of his investigatory role, the main aim of the UO is to determine whether the administrative act complained of complies with established norms of good administration including whether complainant’s case had been processed in an appropriate manner, in line with established procedure and polices and without discrimination.
His role is not intended to determine guilt or innocence, but to promote good administration by the Institutions concerned and as a result, enhance a harmonious professional relationship between the staff, students and the administration of these Institutions. Though not officially a mediator, the UO may use this approach as a method of alternative dispute resolution.
The UO deals with complaints only after all other institutional channels or avenues available to the complainant have been exhausted. He does so once the complaint has been lodged in writing. All action by the UO will cease once a case is taken to court or to any other competent tribunal.
The UO does not deal with cases that are of a purely academic nature, although he may look at academic processes and procedures. He does not deal with complaints that are frivolous or trivial or that are not made in good faith. He does not consider complaints that have been decided upon by his predecessors, or which go beyond the six-month time bar, unless significant new evidence, which had not been previously considered, is presented.
In dealing with complaints, the UO follows the procedure outlined below:
- On receiving a written complaint, he will acknowledge the complaint and confirm whether or not he will be undertaking a formal investigation.
- He will provide a copy of the complaint with any accompanying documentation to the head of the institution concerned as the respondent, who will be asked to reply in detail to the complaint.
- The UO will evaluate all the data provided and where appropriate will hold interviews with the individuals or authorities concerned.
- The UO will report on the complaint listing the finding of facts resulting from the investigation, and make recommendations if appropriate. A copy of this report will be sent to the complainant and to the Institutions concerned.
- The UO will follow-up the case to ensure that his recommendations are acted upon.
A complainant who is not satisfied with the report of the UO can make her/his case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
The UO will receive written complaints either in hard copy, which can be handed in the Office of the Ombudsman, 11 St Paul's Street, Valletta, or through electronic mail. Whenever possible the downloadable form should be used by accessing the Office of the Ombudsman website and selecting the University Ombudsman Complaint Form.
Biography of Prof Charles Farrugia:
Professor Charles Farrugia was born at Rabat in 1941, had his primary and secondary education at St Aloysius’ College. He started his teaching career in Malta’s state schools in 1959, moving to a lectureship in teacher education in 1967. He studied Education at St. Michael’s Training College, at the Universities of London and Montreal, and again at the University Of London Institute Of Education, from where he obtained a Ph.D. with a study on professionalism in education.
In 1978, Professor Farrugia became the founder Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta, a position he held for fourteen years during which time, courses leading to the B.Ed. (Hons), M.Ed., Ph.D. and several specialized Diploma level courses in Education were launched. In February 2009, Professor Farrugia will stop co-coordinating the Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (Administration and Management) course, which has been running for 24 years and which has become a mandatory qualification for anyone seeking a Head of School position in Malta’s State and Church school sectors.
He spent the decade 1996-2006 as Pro-Rector of the University, introducing such administrative procedures as University-wide academic audits and the institution’s first five-year strategic plan. He has worked extensively with the British Commonwealth Secretariat and UNESCO on education policy-making and development in small states. He chaired the Junior College Board for more than ten years. His most recent publications are Malta’s entry in the 2009 International Encyclopedia of Education and a chapter in a book on educational administration in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. Since 1996 he has chaired the Maltese National Commission for UNESCO, and serves as a Governor at the Malta Financial Services Authority. He is married to Doris nee` Ciangura and has three children.