The Mediation Process
The University mediation scheme follows the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) five stage process. These stages are as follows:
- The mediator’s first contact with the participants occurs in separate meetings. This is an opportunity to gauge the individuals’ expectations of the process and hear their own perspective of the situation.
Hearing the issues
- The joint meeting opens with each participant being given a period of uninterrupted time to explain the circumstances from their perspective. The mediator will summarise and extract the key points to form the basis of the rest of the meeting.
Exploring the issues
- The participants are encouraged to communicate on the identified issues, thereby promoting mutual understanding and refocusing on the future instead of dwelling on past problems.
Building an agreement
- The mediator encourages the participants to adopt a problem-solving approach to the problems raised, empowering them to take ownership of the resolution.
Closing the process
- Once an agreement has been reached, the meeting is brought to a close. The mediator produces a written version of the agreements detailing the responsibilities of each participant for its implementation and provides a copy for both of them.
- If no agreement is reached, the mediator will attempt to gain agreement from the parties as to what the issues are and to how they will proceed in the future.
Although these stages represent the model for a dispute resolution through mediation, the process is flexible to meet the needs of the individuals and with an aim to resolve the issue informally. It is also worth noting that while mediation can be used at any point in the conflict cycle, earlier interventions provide better results.