University Mediation - How it Enhances the Staff and Student Experience
Establishing a University Mediation Service supports effective relationships between staff, students and with the community in which it is based, particularly for campus universities where there can sometimes be 'town and gown' relationship challenges.
One of the main areas in which mediation is used in universities is to help in the resolution of student complaints. In all areas described on this page, mediation can be provided by a suitably trained in-house university mediation service or by an external mediator.
Examples of complaints made by students about their university can include the following:
Dissatisfaction with PhD supervision - a breakdown in relationship between a supervisor and a student leading to difficulties regarding completion of research and write-up.
Complaints about accommodation provision
Complaints about a sense of harassment or being bullied by other students or a member of staff, or of being spoken to disrespectfully
Complaints about quality of teaching or availability of a tutor or lecturer for learning support
Complaints about failure to provide adequate support where a student has special needs, whether through mobility issues or sensory challenges such as hearing or sight impairment
Complaints about representation on diversity issues and insensitivity to portrayals of different cultures, religions, ethnicities and minority groups.
Examples of situations where a University Mediation Service can be a useful resource to draw upon include:
Student group work conflict arises when shared projects require co-ordination, effective communication and co-operation between students in order to complete their shared assignment. Many groups will resolve these inevitable conflicts but where groups are not able to move through them our Peer-to-Peer Resolution of Student Group Work Conflict training can help staff to appropriately support students experiencing such difficulties.
Difficulties between staff whether academic, administrative, or premises maintenance and support, have been resolved through the use by the staff involved of a university mediation service.
Equality and Diversity - where a situation felt to involve discrimination or stereotyping by one or more people proves difficult to substantiate and an opportunity via mediation to discuss the respective intentions and perceptions can be provided for those involved in order to gain a greater clarity about each person's experience and to enable an ongoing working relationship to be established or re-established.
Group disputes - where a team or other group within a university is experiencing 'internal conflict' of some kind. For example it may be that a particular individual or 'clique' within a department or team is considered to be a source of difficulty and working relationships and productivity, project development, teaching targets etc. are affected. Alternatively it may be a group such as a religious or other group that has concerns over issues such as allocated space, consideration of their needs in some way. etc.
Allegations of bullying - mediation can be highly effective in helping workplace relationship difficulties that include allegations of bullying to be resolved effectively as it gives an opportunity for the person who feels bullied to express their concerns directly to the person they see as the bully in a safer environment than they may feel to be so in their normal working environment. Additionally it gives the person accused of bullying an opportunity to hear the experience of the other person and explain their intentions, possibly to apologise if appropriate and for a mutually created way forward to be created. This is one of the areas in which CAOS has had a lot of experience of supporting via its workplace mediation provision.
'Town and Gown' difficulties - sometimes the presence of a university within a residential area can lead to difficulties between students and local residents, or may arise from university events and activities that may inconvenience local residents. In such cases the use of an external mediator can be useful in helping to resolve such difficulties by helping a co-operative discussion to occur between university and local-resident representatives. Where students who live off-campus and local residents have disputes it will usually be treated more like a neighbour dispute by the local authority,(and this also may involve mediation of course. However there can be involvement of the university by the local residents even if, strictly, there is little the university has to do with the situation if the students live off-campus. Where there is disturbance from university accommodation this can also be assisted via mediation.
At CAOS we have a particularly strong link with Brunel University in West London, helping them to establish in-house mediation and conflict coaching provision for staff and students.
We also work with a range of other universities in London including SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) and the University of East London as well as other universities outside of London such as Exeter University.
We tend to provide mediation only within the London area, however we do have CAOS-trained Associates working outside of London so please contact us if you would like to know if we have an Associate based in your area.
We provide training and consultancy in all the areas mentioned on this page across the UK.
Staff Training for In-house University Mediation, Conflict Coaching and other Conflict Management needs
CAOS Conflict Management provides training for Universities in the CAOS models of Mediation and Conflict Coaching and Peer-to-Peer Resolution Support Skills as well as bespoke conflict management training courses which use the same framework of underlying philosophies and practical principles as the mediation and conflict coaching training courses.
Please contact us by email or telephone us on 020 3371 7507 if you would like our support in providing or establishing a University Mediation Service for any of the areas described above at your University.