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The UK’s Improving Dispute Resolution Task Force issues Higher Ed ADR Toolkit

Funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, a UK-wide project namedimage the Improving Dispute Resolution task force was set up in 2007 to ensure that universities tackle effectively the growing number and range of disputes that can cost universities dearly in terms of time, money and reputation.

Specifically, funding was provided for three linked purposes:

1 ) To determine Higher Education Institutions’ (HEIs’) experience with mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution

2) To discuss with HEIs ways of identifying disputes which are suitable for mediation

3) To work with HEIs to develop training needs assessments for mediation

The task force has completed their initial audit and has recently released a 50-page guide entitled Taking a Fresh Look at Disputes in Higher Education: A Toolkit (1 MB pdf). The guide provides some results from their survey of the field and offers a series of questions and advice for HEI’s looking to improve their dispute handling capabilities.

A general theme is the suggestion that universities adopt a more institution-wide approach, more centralized services, and more systems for coordination of activity. A website for the project provides useful background on the UK Higher Education environment (quite different from the U.S. in many respects) and provides resources and sample cases to help spur program development and improvement. Researchers might be interested in reviewing the survey instrument (available online here) developed by the project to gather their baseline data.

Below is a screenshot of one of the checklists from the guide that focuses on mediation services.

checklist screenshot