Analysis of the Causes of Conflicts at Universities and Alternative Methods of Resolving Them. Part I: Mediation in Academic Disputes

Ewa Gmurzyńska


This article consists of two parts. The first part analyzes the causes of an increasing number of disputes at universities, resulting both from external factors related to the crises of the 21st century and from internal factors, i.e. the nature of universities, the increasing complexity of problems arising at universities and the changing role of universities in society. One of the reasons for the increased number of conflicts is the treatment of universities as service providers, which is a result of a change in understanding the role of universities. Students understand their role as consumers and this change alone causes an increased number of formal proceedings against universities. In response to this trend, universities in many countries are introducing or considering alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, which are less expensive and faster alternatives to litigation or disciplinary proceedings, and include an important element of universities’ mission of educating students in a spirit of respect and tolerance for the other party, and also choose methods in which the parties have the opportunity to influence the resolution of the dispute. The article analyzes mediation which is the most frequently used method of ADR in different countries in academic disputes. Although mediation, according to the analysis carried out in the article, perfectly fits into the idea of an autonomous and independent university, it is thus far widely used only in some countries. The analysis of the application of mediation in certain countries may be an important reflection on the more widespread introduction of this method at universities in other countries partiuculary because mediation is not confined to one legal system. In the second part of the study, the author analyzes the use of court proceedings in resolving academic disputes, the institution of an academic ombudsman, as well as mixed and adjudicatory methods of solving conflicts in higher education.


dispute resolution; ADR; academic disputes; mediation; academic ombudsman



ABA Report, [in:] Special Committee on Alternative Means of Dispute Resolution, Washington 1983.

Abramson H., Mediation Representation: Advocating in a Problem-solving Process, Boulder 2004.

Alcover C.-M., Ombudsing in Higher Education: A Contingent Model for Mediation in University Dispute Resolution Processes, “The Spanish Journal of Psychology” 2019, vol. 12(1), DOI:

Baldridge J.V., Power and Conflicts in the University: Research in Sociology of Complex Organizations, New York 1971.

Baldridge J.V., Curtis D.V., Ecker G.P., Riley G.L., Policy Making and Effective Leadership, San Francisco 1978.

Barnes B.E., Designing a Conflict Resolution System for the University of Hawaii System: Economic Considerations and the Unionized Campus, CNCR-Hewlett Foundation Seed Grant White Papers 1999, no. 9.

Barsky A.E., Structural Sources of Conflicts in a University Context, “Conflict Resolution” 2002, vol. 20(161), DOI:

Baruch Bush R.A., Folger J.P., The Promise of Mediation: Responding to Conflict through Empowerment and Recognition, San Francisco 2005.

Barzun J., How It Runs, Where It Is Going, Chicago–London 1993.

Behrens R., ENOHE 2013 Dispute Resolution in Higher Education in Turbulent Times, [in:] Report of the 10th Annual Conference of the European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education, Oxford 2014.

Bienstock J.E., Campus Conflict Resolution: The Time Has Come for Mandatory Mediation, “Journal of Business and Behavioral Sciences” 2019, vol. 31(1).

Bing R., Dye I., The danger of hierarchical decision-making: How a model ‘effective’ college president alienated and embittered a campus, “Academe” 1992, vol. 78(4), DOI:

Birnbaum R., Management Fads in Higher Education: Where They Come From, Why They Do, Why they Fail, San Francisco 2001.

Birtwistle T., Legal Aspects of Higher Education in an International Context: Disputes, Resolutions, Methods and Safeguards, Amsterdam 2008.

Borucka-Arctowa M., Koncepcja sprawiedliwości proceduralnej i jej rola w okresie przemian systemowych. Analiza teoretyczno-prawna, [in:] Dynamika wartości w prawie, ed. K. Pałecki, Kraków 1987.

Cabal A.B., The University as an Institution Today, Paris–Ottawa 1993.

Caetano P., Freire I., Mediation in Education: A Collaborative Study between the University and Practitioner-researchers in the Field of Education, Portugal 2004 (paper presented at the European Conference on the Educational Research, University of Crete, 22–25 September 2004).

Chauvin T., Prawa stają się prawem: demokratyczne procedury w służbie wartości, [in:] Prawa stają się prawem. Status jednostki a tendencje rozwojowe prawa, ed. M. Wyrzykowski, Warszawa 2006.

Christie N., Conflicts as Property, “The British Journal of Criminology” 1977, vol. 17(1), DOI:

Clark B., Sustaining Change in Universities, London 2004.

Clark R., The Higher Education System: Academic Organization in Cross-national Perspective, Berkeley 1983.

Cohen M.D., March J.G., Leadership and Ambiguity: The American College President, New York 1974.

Conrath R.C., In Loco Parentis: Recent Developments in this Legal Doctrine as Applied to the University-Student Relationship in the United States of America, 1965–75, 1976 (doctoral dissertation submitted to the Kent State University Graduate School of Education).

Cybulko A., Konflikt, [in:] Mediacja. Teoria i praktyka, eds. E. Gmurzyńska, R. Morek, Warszawa 2018.

Czapski M., Mediacja w sporach akademickich, [in:] Mediacja. Teoria i praktyka, eds. E. Gmurzyńska, R. Morek, Warszawa 2018.

Dana D., The costs of organizational conflict, “Organizational Development Journal” 1984.

Delgado R., Dunn Ch., Brown P., Lee H., Hubbert D., Fairness and Formality: Minimizing the Risk of Prejudice in Alternative Dispute Resolution, “Wisconsin Law Review” 1985, no. 1359.

Deutsch M., Coleman P.T., Marcus E.C., The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, San Francisco 2006.

Dutile F.N., Law and Governance Affecting the Resolution of Academic and Disciplinary Disputes at Scottish Universities: An American Perspective, “Indiana International & Comparative Law Review” 1997, vol. 8(1), DOI:

Folger J.P., Shubert J.J., Resolving student-initiated grievances in higher education: Dispute resolution procedures in a non-adversarial setting (Report no. 3), Washington 1986.

Galanter M., The Vanishing Trial: An Examination of Trials and Related Matters in Federal and State Courts, “Journal of Empirical Legal Studies” 2004, vol. 1(3), DOI:

Girard K., Rifkin J., Townley J., Peaceful Persuasion: A Guide to Creating Mediation Dispute Resolution Programs on College Campuses, Amherst 1985.

Gmurzyńska E., Benefits of Dispute Resolution Systems in Organizations: The Example of the University of Warsaw Conflict Resolution System, “ENOHE Occasional Paper” 2012, no. 9.

Gmurzyńska E., Mediacja w sprawach cywilnych w amerykańskim systemie prawnym. Zastosowanie w Europie i w Polsce, Warszawa 2007.

Gmurzyńska E., Rodzaje mediacji, [in:] Mediacja. Teoria i praktyka, eds. E. Gmurzyńska, R. Morek, Warszawa 2018.

Gmurzyńska E., Rola prawników w alternatywnych metodach rozwiązywania sporów, Warszawa 2014.

Gmurzyńska E., Sprawiedliwość a mediacja. Wybrane zagadnienia związane z realizowaniem koncepcji sprawiedliwości w mediacji, [in:] Aurea praxis, aurea theoria, eds. J. Gudowski, K. Weitz, vol. 2, Warszawa 2011.

Gójska A., Mediacja w postępowaniu cywilnym w Polsce w statystykach Ministerstwa Sprawiedliwości, „Profilaktyka Społeczna i Resocjalizacja” 2013, no. 22.

Grier J., Wohl J., Leidenfrost J., Thirty Years of Solitude? University Ombudsmen’s Pioneering Past, Confident Present, Challenging Future, Report of the 12th ENOHE Annual Conference, Innsbruck 2015.

Grillo T., The Mediation Alternative: Process Dangers for Woman, “The Yale Law Journal” 1991, vol. 100(6), DOI:

Katz N.H., Kovack L.N., Higher Education’s Current State of Alternative Dispute Resolution Service for Students, “Journal of Conflict Management” 2016, vol. 4(1).

Klingel S., Maffie M., Conflict Management System in Higher Education: A Look at Mediation in Public Universities, “Dispute Resolution Journal” 2011, vol. 66.

Kontowski D., Umasowienie czy demokratyzacja? Rosnąca liczba studentów w Polsce a tradycja liberal arts education, „TH!NK” 2013, no. 4.

Kovach K.K., The Vanishing Trial: Land Mine on the Mediation Landscape or Opportunity for Evolution: Ruminations on The Future of Mediation Practice, “Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution” 2005, vol. 7(27).

Lande J., Lawyers’ Routine Participation Directs Shape of “Liti-Mediation”, “Alternatives to the High Cost of Litigation” 1998, vol. 16(53), DOI:

Leidenfrost J., Conflict Resolution at University: Ombudsman Mediation as a Tool?, “Perspective Focus” 2015, vol. 101(2).

Leidenfrost J., Ombudsmen in Higher Education: Helping the Single Student, Contributing to the Universities’ Institutional Changes, “Creative Education” 2013, vol. 4(7), DOI:

Lind E.A., Tyler T.R., The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice, New York 1988.

Love L.P., Twenty-Five Years Later with Promises To Keep: Legal Education in Dispute Resolution and Training of Mediators, “Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution” 2002, vol. 17(3).

McCarthy J.E., Conflict and Mediation in Academy, “New Directions for Higher Education” 1980, no. 31.

Millet J.D., New Structures of Campus Power: Success and Failures of Emerging Forms of Institutional Governance, San Francisco 1978.

Moore Ch., The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflicts, San Francisco 1996.

Morek R., ADR – w sporach gospodarczych, Warszawa 2004.

Morek R., Wprowadzenie, [in:] Mediacje. Teoria i praktyka, eds. E. Gmurzyńska. R. Morek, Warszawa 2018.

Nerad M., Miller D.S, Increasing student retention in graduate and professional programs, [in:] Assessing Graduate and Professional Education, ed. J.G Haworth, San Francisco 1996.

Ostar A.W., Institutional conflict, “Conflict Management in Higher Education” 1995, no. 92, DOI:

Peterson M.W., Spencer M.G., Understanding academic culture and climate, “New Directions for Institutional Research” 1990, no. 68, DOI:

Raven B.H., The Bases of Power/Interaction Model of Interpersonal Influence, “Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy” 2008, vol. 8(1), DOI:

Readings B., Uniwersytet w ruinie, Warszawa 2017.

Riskin L.L., Westbrook J.E., Dispute Resolution and Lawyers, St. Paul 2002.

Schmidtlein F.A., Berdahl R.O., Autonomy and Accountability: Who Controls Academe?, [in:] American Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century: Social, Political, and Economic Challenges, eds. P.G. Altbach, P.J. Gumport, R.O. Berdahl, Baltimore 2011.

Smużewska M., Uniwersytet bez idei. Artykuł recenzyjny książki Idea uniwersytetu. Reaktywacja pod redakcją Piotra Sztompki i Krzysztofa Matuszka (Kraków 2014: Wyd. Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, ss. 365), „Nauka i Szkolnictwo Wyższe” 2015, no. 1, DOI:

Szpor A., Konflikty w organizacjach – organizacje w konfliktach, [in:] Mediacje. Teoria i praktyka, eds. E. Gmurzyńska, R. Morek, Warszawa 2018.

Sztompka P., Uniwersytet współczesny. Zderzenie dwóch kultur, „Nauka” 2014, no. 1.

Tierney W.G., Organizational culture in higher education: Defining the essentials, “Journal of Higher Education” 1988, vol. 59(1), DOI:

Ury W.L., Brett J.M., Goldberg S.B., Getting Disputes Resolved, San Francisco 1993.

Volpe M., Chandler D., Resolving Conflicts in Institutions of Higher Education: Challenges for Pracademics, “Georgia State University College of Law Reading Room” 1999, no. 8.

Warters W.C., Institutional and Program Level Guidance for Conflict Management in Higher Education, Campus Conflict Management Committee, May 2003.

Warters W.C., Mediation in the Campus Community: Designing and Managing Effective Programs, San Francisco 2000.

Warters W.C., The Emergence of Campus Mediation Systems: History in the Making, “Conflict Management in Higher Education Report” 2001, vol. 2(1).

Warters W.C., The History of Campus Mediation Systems: Research and Practice, “Georgia State University College of Law Reading Room” 1999, no. 10.

Welsh N.A., Decision Control in Court-Connected Mediation: A Hollow Promise without Procedural Justice, “Journal of Dispute Resolution” 2002, no. 1.


Aalto University, [access: 20.12.2020].

Antonowicz D., Gorlewski B., Demograficzne tsunami. Raport Instytutu Sokratesa na temat wpływu zmian demograficznych na szkolnictwo wyższe do 2020 roku, Warszawa 2011, [access: 10.01.2021].

Antonowicz D., Jongbloed B., Jaki ustrój Uniwersytetu? Reforma szkolnictwa wyższego w Holandii, Portugalii i Austrii. Wnioski dla Polski, 2015, [access: 10.11.2020].

Baker M., Szkodliwy podział na nauki humanistyczne i ścisłe, 3.02.2019, [access: 10.11.2020].

Bexell G., Managing Ethical Issues: University Ethics and Human Resources, 2005, [access: 20.12.2020].

Buckton L., The Student Conduct and Appeal Office, [access: 10.11.2020].

Challenge-driven universities to solve global problems, [access: 20.12.2020].

Chimczak P., Liczba studentów w Polsce – analiza i prognoza, 7.05.2020, [access: 10.10.2020].

DePalo G., D’Urso L., ‘Rebooting’ The Mediation Directive: Assessing the Limited Impact of its Implementation and Proposing Measures to Increase the Number of Mediations in the EU, [access: 10.10.2020].

Die ETH Zürich, [access: 10.10.2020].

Erasmus: Facts, Figures & Trends. The European Union support for student and staff exchanges and university cooperation in 2013–2014, [access: 20.12.2020].

Goldsmith University of London, [access: 10.11.2020].

Harvard University, Mission, Vision, & History, [access: 10.11.2020].

Heidelberg University, Mission Statement & Principles, [access: 10.10.2020].

L’université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, [access: 20.12.2020].

Masters Programs in Peace and Conflict Studies in Europe 2021, [access: 20.12.2020].

Matthews K., 7 Benefits of Mediation Programs in Higher Education Institutions, October 2019, [access: 10.09.2020].

Miller K., Valuable and reliable resources for universities, 24.01.2020, [access: 10.08.2020].

Naveen S., Globalization Effect on Education and Culture: An Analysis, 28.05.2012. [access: 10.08.2020].

Number of International Students in the United States Hits All-Time High, [access: 20.12.2020].

O programie Erasmus+ 2014–2020, [access: 20.12.2020].

Osoba mediatora w świetle Ustawy 2.0, [access: 20.12.2020].

Seven global key challenges faced by universities and their leadership teams, [access: 20.12.2020].

Statut Fundacji Centrum Rozwiązywania Sporów i Konfliktów przy Wydziale Prawa i Administracji Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego z dnia 12 czerwca 2006 r., [access: 27.01.2021].

Student Resolution Service, [access: 20.12.2020].

Szewioła P., Mediacja na uczelniach rozkręca się powoli, 12.11.2019,,mediacja-uczelnie-szkolnictwo-wyzsze-mediator-pracownicy-naukowi.html [access: 20.12.2020].

The COVID-19 Crisis Response: Supporting tertiary education for continuity, adaptation, and innovation, [access: 20.12.2020].

Universidad de Monterrey, [access: 20.12.2020].

Universität Göttingen, [access: 10.10.2020].

Universities in Crisis, [access: 20.12.2020].

University College of London, [access: 10.11.2020].

University McMaster, [access: 20.12.2020].

University of Bristol, [access: 10.11.2020].

University of Dundee, [access: 10.11.2020].

University of Durham, [access: 10.11.2020].

University of Manchester, [access: 10.11.2020].

University of Oxford, Guidance on mediation, [access: 20.12.2020].

University of Southampton, [access: 10.11.2020].

Uniwersytet Warszawski, Misja. Strategia rozwoju, [access: 10.10.2020].

Warters B., Making the Case for Campus Mediation, “The Fourth R” 1995, vol. 55, [access: 20.12.2020].

Witze A., Universities will never be the same after the coronavirus crisis, [access: 20.12.2020].

Yale, Mission Statement, [access: 10.11.2020].

Young P., The “What” of Mediation: When Is Mediation the Right Process Choice?, October 2006, [access: 22.09.2020].


Act of 30 August 2002 – Law on proceedings before administrative courts (Journal of Laws 2017, item 1369).

Act of 23 September 2016 on out-of-court resolution of consumer disputes (Journal of Laws 2016, item 1823).

Act of 15 December 2016 on the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Poland (Journal of Laws 2016, item 2261).

Act 7 April 2017 on amending certain acts to facilitate the recovery of receivables (Journal of Laws 2017, item 933).

Act of 20 July 2018 – Law on Higher Education and Science (Journal of Laws 2018, item 1668 as amended).

Act of 11 September 2019 – Public Procurement Law (Journal of Laws 2019, item 2019).

Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters (OJ EU L 136/3, 24.05.2008).

Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) no. 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Directive on consumer ADR) (OJ EU L 165/63, 18.06.2013).

Regulation (EU) no. 524/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) no. 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Regulation on consumer ODR) (OJ EU UE L 165/1, 18.06.2013).

Data publikacji: 2021-03-31 14:40:17
Data złożenia artykułu: 2020-10-07 23:34:28


Total abstract view - 341
Downloads (from 2020-06-17) - PDF - 0 PDF (Język Polski) - 0



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Ewa Gmurzyńska

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.