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External Examining at UCA: Frequently Asked Questions

Section 1: Nomination and recruitment

The full criteria are stipulated at the beginning of Section G in the Quality Assurance Handbook. You can access Section G here.

 However, the key things to note are that External Examiners must not be:

  • A member of a governing body or committee of the University or any of its collaborative partners;
  • A current employee of the University or any of its collaborative partners;

  • Anyone with a close professional, contractual or personal relationship with a member of staff or student involved with the course(s);

  • Former staff or students of the University unless a period of 5 years has elapsed; and all students taught by or with the External Examiner must have completed their studies;

  • Part of a reciprocal arrangement involving cognate programmes at another institution.

Once you have agreed to be an External Examiner for UCA, you will be required to complete the nomination form and return it to the UCA Programme Director along with your CV and a colour scan of your passport (or other suitable ID).

Once the Quality Assurance & Enhancement (QAE) department have reviewed the nomination and the School Board of Study has approved it, a right to work check is carried out. After this the contract and accompanying paperwork will be sent by QAE.

Programme Directors start looking for new External Examiners, for the following academic year, during the Autumn term.  Nominations are normally approved at the Spring School Board with QAE issuing contracts during the Summer. Contracts run from 1 October to 30 September for UG courses and from 1 December to 30 November for PG courses.

The appointment will be for one year in the first instance with the remaining three years being considered and confirmed by the School Board at its Summer meeting (four years in total).

Section 2: Induction and the External Examiner Forum

All new External Examiners must go through the induction process.  The first stage is at University level; an induction pack will be sent out to all new examiners during the Spring term by QAE.

The second stage is at course level where you will become familiar with the course that you are examining and its specific assessment practices. This is carried out by the Programme Director/Leader/Link Tutor and usually takes place at the first visit or online.

The induction pack will include the role and remit of the External Examiner, the assessment regulations and Academic Framework.  The course level induction will look at the course structure, assessment format, unit handbooks etc.

Section 3: The end of year visit and sample

The examiner’s duties should not normally exceed more than two days work (not including the induction or writing the annual report). When these days take place is up to the Programme Director. Some may prefer to have one visit/sample verified in the Spring and a second in the Summer; others may prefer to have a two-day verification in the Summer.

UCA has an Assessment Feedback Policy predicated on the timely receipt of feedback to students.  Therefore, once a unit has been assessed and internally verified, each student will receive a feedback form with a mark. The form confirms that the mark is indicative until confirmed by the Board of Examiners.   Whilst it is rare for marks to be changed, students are made aware that this could happen as a result of the external verification process.

External Examiners are not required by UCA regulations to meet with students and meetings are optional. Where an External Examiner and Programme Director wish to include a student meeting as part of the external examining process, the meeting should not focus on individual student marks but rather on the assessment process and the student experience of the units/assessment process.

Some examiners may choose to meet with students during their visit, if they and the Course Team believe this will help to provide context to the course and an understanding of the student experience of assessment.  This is not deemed an essential part of the External Examiners’ remit.

If any students raise issues outside of the remit of the External Examiner, they should be directed to the University’s student feedback mechanisms.

Undergraduate provision:

External Examiners will be provided with some work from levels 4, 5 and 6.  As a minimum, the University requires the External Examiner to see 25% of level 4 work (i.e. 30 credits); 50% of level 5 work (i.e. 60 credits); and 100% of level 6 work (i.e. 120 credits).  The level 4 and 5 units seen should be rotated annually so that during the period of their tenure, the External Examiner will audit all units.

 
Postgraduate provision:
 
The University requires the External Examiner to see all units from postgraduate taught courses.

Samples must include a broad range of marks, including some from each grade band. The University does not require the External Examiner to see all fails.

Amount of work to be sampled per unit*

Number of students on unit Number of student submissions to be included in the sample
0 - 6 All
7 - 36 6
37 - 49 7
50 - 64 8
65 - 81 9
82 - 100 10
101 - 121 11
122+ 12

Section 4: The Board of Examiners

Attendance at Boards of Examiners is not required because the board process at UCA is relatively automated – no work is received, and no discussion is had about an individual student’s marks or profile.

All decisions regarding mitigating circumstances are dealt with at either course or school level and are reflected accordingly in the student profiles.

Please follow this link for the University’s Mitigating Circumstances Regulations for further information: 

https://uca.assetbank-server.com/assetbank-uca/assetfile/50435.pdf

Details of the rules for reassessment and classification outcomes can be found here:

https://www.uca.ac.uk/about-us/quality-assurance-enhancement/university-regulations-policies-and-procedures/#d.en.170938

Academic misconduct is considered in accordance with the University’s Academic Misconduct Regulations. You can access these here: https://uca.assetbank-server.com/assetbank-uca/assetfile/50368.pdf

Section 5: The Examiner Report

Examiner reports are due three weeks after the Examiner has seen the sample of work and no later than two weeks after the Board of Examiners has taken place.

There should be one per course except where an Examiner is viewing theory units which are shared across multiple courses. Where a course has more than one entry point during the year, i.e. Sep, Feb and June, the annual report should look back at the past 12 months. This means the report will consider cohorts from two different academic years. For example, annual reports for 2021/22 will include examiner comments from Feb 21 and June 21 even though they officially belong to the previous academic year.

The KPI questions in Section B of the report capture key information, the analysis of which provides the University with an indication of course performance.

The role of the examiner is to audit the assessment process and monitor the academic standards of awards at UCA. The report should therefore only reflect the examiner’s judgement on these areas.

The examiner may receive feedback on other areas outside of the remit of their post (for example, students may reflect for instance on resources or timetabling during optional meetings with students).  UCA has other processes in place to receive feedback from staff and students and for considering the resources available for a course, and such feedback should be redirected as appropriate.

If the report includes comments deemed to be outside the remit of the assessment process and academic standards of the course, they will be communicated to the Programme Director to note but will not be responded to.

The University operates pre-sessional language courses for international students and signposted English language support is in place for students whose first language is not English. The University is a practice-based provider offering programmes that are predominantly visual/practice based rather than written. 

If you consider a student’s grades are not appropriate due to English language levels, you should include this in your report, however this must relate to the course’s intended aims and learning outcomes as not all courses require demonstration of strong written English language skills.

The QAE team receives all reports and conducts the initial analysis. Members of the Course Team then consider their own examiner report and respond to the recommended actions. This is sent out to the examiner to help ‘close the loop’.

The examiner report is considered as part of the University’s annual Quality Report. Reoccurring themes, strengths and weaknesses from examiner reports are pulled together and feed into the Quality Report which is received by the Board of Governors.

Section 6: Payment

All External Examiners are paid via the University’s Payroll into a UK bank account and is paid on the 26th of the month.

Examiners will be paid their annual fee once they have submitted their examiner report.

Expenses must be claimed using the correct claim form. All claim forms must be signed and must include receipts.

 Further fee information can be found in Section G of the Quality Assurance Handbook.

The University only reimburses proper and reasonable expenses in line with HM Revenue and Customs guidelines.

Original receipts containing the date must be attached for all amounts being claimed, with the exception of mileage claims.

The University will pay for all travel expenses at the rate of 45p per mile if travelling by car, or standard class public transport costs. 

Subsistence will be paid on the following basis:

  • Evening meal – up to £30 per person per day
  • Lunch – up to £6 per person per day

Where travel arrangements or overnight accommodation are required, please contact the QAE Department at least one month in advance of the visit to request the necessary arrangements.

The University will not pay for expenses other than those necessary for travel and subsistence and will not refund any alcohol consumed as part of an evening meal or lunch.

Section 7: Additional questions for External Examiners appointed to Collaborative Partners

External Examiners are appointed by UCA and will adopt the role and remit of a UCA External Examiner. You can access Section G here.

External Examiners may occasionally be required to visit partners overseas to assess student work and attend a Board of Examiners. This will be made clear at the time of appointment. Visits for both activities will be scheduled together so that only one trip will be required.

No, the Head of School, Programme Director or QAE representative will travel at the same time.

The Global Partnerships Office liaises with partners, UCA Heads of School and External Examiners to establish suitable dates for the visit. Flights, hotel bookings and visas are organised by the QAE department.

The schedule normally includes two days for the assessment of work and one day for the Board of Examiners, in addition to travelling time.

Section 8: Who are my key contacts at UCA?

General Examiner or Quality Assurance queries – ExternalExamining@uca.ac.uk

Accommodation, travel or claim form queries – Clare Burns, cburns2@uca.ac.uk

Academic queries (course documents, visit, review of work) – your Programme Director

Payment or tax queries – Payroll, payroll@uca.ac.uk