External examining: Additional reference

External examining

Universities UK Review of External Examining
This review was published in March 2011 based on a national consultation.
In February 2010 the English Subject Centre hosted a Forum on External Examining which aimed to generate evidence for the UUK Review, and to articulate ideas about the future of external examining in a discipline context. This report summarises the discussions and includes the introductory notes and references sent to Forum participants, which form a useful briefing on current issues.

Report of an English Subject Centre Forum on External Examining in English 2010
In February 2010 the English Subject Centre hosted a Forum on External Examining which aimed to generate evidence for the UUK Review, and to articulate ideas about the future of external examining in a discipline context. This report summarises the discussions and includes the introductory notes and references sent to Forum participants, which form a useful briefing on current issues.

External Examining in English – 2003
The Subject Centre’s original report External Examining in English was written by Philip Martin and published in April 2003 (Report Series No. 7). You can read more about the report and download it from the page in this area.

QAA Code of Practice on Quality and Standards in HE – External Examining
The Code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education (the Code of practice) provides guidance on maintaining quality and standards for universities and colleges subscribing to QAA. It is made up of 10 sections and was originally prepared by QAA between 1998 and 2001. Revisions of individual sections began in 2004.

How the System Works
University UK’s useful guide to external examining

Higher Ambitions: the Future of Universities in a Knowledge Economy
The Government’s Framework Document (November 2009). Whoever wins the General Election, this is likely to represent the trend of policy. Chapters 4 ‘The student experience of higher education’ and 6 ‘Supporting a world class system’ are particularly relevant here. ‘We will … support universities’ work to strengthen the role of the external examiner’ (p. 77).

The 2009 Select Committee Report – Students and Universities
Argues a case for strengthening the quality assurance system, and is particularly exercised by the idea that comparable national standards should be developed.

The Government’s response to the Select Committee report
Makes clear how important external examining is in government thinking, and argues that the sector review should make provision for ‘independent recourse for External Examiners who have unresolved concerns about an institutions’s academic standards’.

HEFCE Sub-Committee report on Teaching, Quality, and the Student Experience
The findings are thus summarised: The external examiner system is often held up as a means of ensuring comparability of standards and good practice. However, individual examiners’ experience is limited to the organisations in which they have worked, so it is arguable whether they can provide such reassurance at national level. Allegations have been made of institutions pressurising external examiners to pass students, or simply ignoring their advice. In addition, the external examiner’s role is not well understood by the wider public. The sub-committee recommends a review of the external examiner system. This should consider clarification of the examiner’s role and the provision of an independent recourse for examiners to raise concerns, along with greater scrutiny of external examiners’ views during institutional audits.

Higher Education Academy – External examining
There are various resources on the HE Academy site. Reports by Hannan and Silver and by Smith and Oliver are particularly thought-provoking. There is also a slightly dated but still useful paper by Norman Jackson ‘New developments in external examining’.

Engineering Subject Centre Guide
Our colleagues in the Engineering Subject Centre have produced an excellent guide on external examining (where a pdf download is available) which is useful well beyond the Engineering community.