Studentombod Pål Gustavsen, ved kontoret på Blindern.
Studentombod Pål Gustavsen, ved kontoret på Blindern.

New ombudsman for students

KHiO and five other colleges in Oslo have made a joint effort to finance an ombudsperson for students, dedicated to advising students in study-related matters. Pål Gustavsen’s office at UiO is open to those who need it.

– Being a student can be challenging. Suddenly, you find yourself in a new situation, with rules and expectations, and it is easy to feel small and vulnerable, says Pål Gustavsen. He is the new ombudsman for students studying at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Lovisenberg Diaconal University College, Bjørknes University College, Norwegian Academy of Music and Politihøgskolen.

In August last year, a new law made it compulsory for schools to provide students with an ombudsperson. The aim is to provide legal and administrative guidance and support in matters concerning them in their school day, and to be a neutral third party for students in difficult cases. The ombudsman is independent from the college, and everything is confidential.

– Usually, the job is to give legal advice, telling students what their rights are in their specific case, but also what is required of them in return. Our job is to oversee the administrative procedures in each case, making sure everything is done properly.

– It’s free, and the students don’t have to make any commitments regarding their case.

– We can give advise on student rights, or talk confidentially on a spesific situation, says Gustavsen.

The ombudsman does not represent neither the school or the student. It’s aim is to provide an impartial, third-party examination of the situation. 

Usually solved earlier

However, most students will not need the help of an ombudsman, according to Gustavsen. In his experience, local school departments and institutes solves most cases before a third-party like themselves is needed.  

– Most people have the students best interest in mind when solving a specific case. Very often, they work out solutions before the need to involve a third-party arises, but if it they don’t manage this, maybe we can help. 

His aim is to visit the six colleges he is the ombudsman for, together with the temporary replacement he will have working in his place troughout this year.

– We have to make ourselves relevant and available, and make sure that the students trust us with problems they have, says Gustavsen, and reiterates that he is avalable on email, by phone, or at the office at Lucy Smiths house at the University of Oslo.

– In general, I’m at the office, available, and can set up a meeting with those who need it.