Guidance on Choosing and Proposing an External Examiner Guidance on Choosing and Proposing an External Examiner

Guidance on Choosing and Proposing an External Examiner for Partner Institutions

The UK Quality Code for Higher Education Chapter B7: External Examining sets out the following expectation about external examining, which higher education institutions are required to meet.

Higher education providers make scrupulous use of External Examiners.

These Guidance notes are informed by this section of the Quality Code, and partners should refer to the code for clarification where appropriate.

Indicator 5 in Chapter B7: External Examining states:

Institutions apply the following UK-wide set of criteria for appointing external examiners and make every effort to ensure that their external examiners are competent to undertake the responsibilities defined by the institution. Institutions use the criteria to ensure that potential conflicts of interest are identified and resolved prior to appointing external examiners or as soon as they arise.

Person Specification

The Quality Code states that institutions must appoint external examiners who can show appropriate evidence of the following:

  1. knowledge and understanding of UK sector agreed reference points for the maintenance of academic standards and assurance and enhancement of quality;
  2. competence and experience in the fields covered by the programme of study, or parts thereof;
  3. relevant academic and/or professional qualifications to at least the level of the qualification being externally examined, and/or extensive practitioner experience where appropriate;
  4. competence and experience relating to designing and operating a variety of assessment tasks appropriate to the subject and operating assessment procedures;
  5. sufficient standing, credibility and breadth of experience within the discipline to be able to command the respect of academic peers and, where appropriate, professional peers;
  6. familiarity with the standard to be expected of students to achieve the award that is to be assessed;
  7. meeting applicable criteria set by professional, statutory or regulatory bodies;
  8. awareness of current developments in the design and delivery of relevant curricula;
  9. competence and experience relating to the enhancement of the student learning experience.

Conflicts of Interest

UEA will not approve External Examiners in the following categories or circumstances:

  1. member of a governing body or committee of the appointing institution or one of its collaborative partners, or a current employee of the appointing institution or one of its collaborative partners;
  2. anyone with a close professional, contractual or personal relationship with a member of staff or student involved with the programme of study;
  3. anyone required to assess colleagues who are recruited as students to the programme of study;
  4. anyone who is, or knows they will be, in a position to influence significantly the future of students on the programme of study;
  5. anyone significantly involved in recent or current substantive collaborative research activities with a member of staff closely involved in the delivery, management or assessment of the programme(s) or modules in question;
  6. former staff or students of the institution unless a period of five years has elapsed and all students taught by or with the External Examiner have completed their programme(s);
  7. a reciprocal arrangement involving cognate programmes at another institution;
  8. the succession of an External Examiner from an institution by a colleague from the same department in the same institution;
  9. the appointment of more than one External Examiner from the same department of the same institution.

Terms of Office

  1. The duration of an External Examiner's appointment will normally be for four years, with an exceptional extension of one year to ensure continuity.
  2. An External Examiner may be reappointed in exceptional circumstances but only after a period of five years or more has elapsed since their last appointment.
  3. External Examiners normally hold no more than two External Examiner appointments for taught programmes/modules at any point in time.

Further Guidance

The appointment of an appropriate External Examiner must weigh up a number of factors as set out above. UEA seeks to enhance all its provision through appointing External Examiners primarily from Russell and former 1994 Group universities.  It is expected that partner institutions would seek to find appropriate subject expertise at these institutions in the first instance, (it may be useful to mention that the awards are made by UEA in the initial approach), however it is recognised that some subject areas cannot be supported by recruiting staff as above.  In such cases, partners should look to recruit examiners from institutions appropriate to their aspirations for enhancement.

To apply candidates will need to submit an application for the approval of an external examiner to the UEA Partnerships Office.  This will need to accomnpanied by an up-to-date CV and proof of eligibility to work in the UK (to meet the requirements of the UK Visas and Immigration, Home Office).  This form and a CV template can both be found on the 'Handbooks, Policies and Forms' page of the main Partnerships Office website.