The campus ombudsman performs a useful role in helping students to secure fair treatment. As an independent insider, who is usually also a faculty member, the ombudsman utilizes many techniques borrowed from other professionals in dispute settlement, but the position is less precisely defined than that of an arbitrator or mediator.
Ombudsmen use improvisation in dealing with a wide variety of student problems, most of them academic in nature. Informality, access to all persons and records, and freedom to investigate are important characteristics of the job. The ombudsman's power is intangible, based on persuasion and credibility rather than on authority to issue orders.