These web pages are a useful resource to assist you with your external examining duties here at the University.
They are also intended to provide relevant information for potential external examiners who have been approached by the University.
What do external examiners do at Southampton Solent University?
The role of external examiners is to ensure that the University's academic standards are maintained and meet sector expectations / requirements.
The University operates a two tier assessment board structure and therefore operates a two tier external examiner system, appointing both unit external examiners and progression and award external examiners.
The rights and responsibilities of unit external examiners and progression and award external examiners are detailed in Section 2I of the Academic Handbook.
Both the QAA and HEA give a clear statement about what is expected with regards to external examining:
What is the time commitment?
Unit external examiners are expected to carry out their duties throughout the year. However, the busiest time will be immediately after assessment has been completed when you will be asked to review work. You will then be required to report to the appropriate Unit Assessment Board.
In addition, you may be required to meet with students and be present for exhibitions of student work. This should be discussed with the course/programme leader. You will also be consulted with regards to any proposed changes to units and relevant courses.
Progression and Award external examiners are primarily involved with progression and award boards which take place in June/July.
All external examiners are required to submit an annual report, for further details please refer to the annual report section.
All external examiners are usually appointed for a period of four years. Exceptionally, this can be extended by a further year.
Do external examiners work alone or as part of a team?
Unit external examiners are usually appointed to a range of units, assigned to one particular unit assessment board. There will normally only be one external examiner assigned to each unit, although there are some exceptions to this.
Progression and award external examiners are appointed to a specific progression and award board.
The University is clear as to the minimum sample size of student work that is provided to external examiners. If you are unhappy with the work provided, then this should be raised with the course team in the first instance. This should be done prior to the Unit Assessment Board in order for the unit leader to be able to respond, discuss and agree the size of the sample with you. The sample size can be increased in agreement with the course team or where you have concerns over standards and wish to see a larger sample.
If you do not feel that your point of view has been taken into account then you should contact Academic Services on 023 8201 6351 .
What are the fees and when are they paid?
All fees need to be claimed for by each external examiner following the completion of duties. Your fees will be stated in your letter of appointment.
QAA Quality Code: B7
The QAA’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education; Chapter B7 states that external examiner reports should be made available to students. External examiner reports are shared with students via course representatives and course committees. The student portal and VLE informs students that they can also request external examiner reports directly from Academic Services.
The UK Quality Code also indicates that the external examiner name, job title and institution should be made available to students. This will be done via the Solent Online Learning virtual learning environment.
The Code states that students should not make direct contact with external examiners and this message is reinforced to students, however if a student does make contact, we ask you not to engage in dialogue but instead forward the email/details of the contact made to us via email (AS.ExternalExaminers@solent.ac.uk). We will then remind the student that they should not make any further contact with you. If there are continued attempts to contact you then student disciplinary procedures may be instigated but we hope this will not be necessary.
QAA Concerns Scheme
If you have serious concerns regarding the academic standards of a unit, course or programme then these should be raised with the relevant course team. If after consultation with the course team concerns remain, then this can be raised directly with the Vice-Chancellor.
External examiners should consult paragraphs 37-39 of section 2I of the Academic Handbook, as detailed below:
“37. An external examiner has the authority to report directly to the Vice-Chancellor, where there is concern about standards and performance, particularly if it is considered that assessments are being conducted in ways which jeopardise either the fair treatment of individual students or the standards of the University’s awards.
"38. Where an external examiner has a serious concern relating to systemic failings with the academic standards of a course or courses and has exhausted all published applicable internal procedures, including the submission of a confidential report to the Vice-Chancellor, he/she should invoke QAA's concerns scheme or inform the relevant professional, statutory or regulatory body.
"39. The QAA scheme's focus is explicitly on systemic failings in the University’s management of standards or quality. Therefore, the scheme must not be used for one-off cases of ineffective practice, or to raise a personal grievance or issues relating to an appointment.”
If after contacting the Vice-Chancellor you believe that your concerns have still not been addressed then you may invoke the QAA’s concerns scheme.
Chapter B7: External examining of the Quality Code states:
“Where an external examiner has a serious concern relating to systemic failings with the academic standards of a programme or programmes and has exhausted all published applicable internal procedures, including the submission of a confidential report to the head of the institution, he/she may invoke QAA's concerns scheme or inform the relevant professional, statutory or regulatory body.”
Guidance for external examiners on the QAA’s concerns scheme
Read the University's full guide for external examiners
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