External examiners are individuals drawn from academia, industry, business or the professional sector. They are appointed by higher education providers to provide them with independent and impartial advice on the quality and standards of their awards. Drawing on their experiences and specialism, external examiners provide informed comment on student achievement in relation to those standards and an external view on how these compare to other institutions.
At Bucks, we value the contribution made by our external examiners. They are an integral and essential part of our quality assurance processes and we place great importance on their comments on the standards of assessments, identification of good practice, appropriateness of our processes and achievement of our students. We ask external examiners to complete an annual report which feeds into the annual review and evaluation of our programmes.
The Governance & Quality team in the Academic Registry is responsible to Senate for operation of our external examiner procedures. Through the External Examiners Approval Panel, we co-ordinate the nomination and approval of appointments. We receive, distribute and analyse external examiner reports across the University. We also publish the External Examiner's Handbook which provides information on the process and role at Bucks and links to other information that may be of use. Day to day activities are undertaken directly by the School & Course Administration teams also based in the Academic Registry.
For more information please contact David Hancock, Registry Officer via email at email@example.com or by phone on 01494 522141 x4022.
Nominations and Appointments
Schools are responsible for ensuring that nominations are identified and processed in a timely manner and in accordance with University and sector criteria for appointment. The Academic Registry maintains a database to assist colleagues in identifying potential clashes with existing appointed External Examiners which would contravene appointment criteria.
Nominations are recommended by the respective School and then formally approved by the External Examiner Approval Panel via delegated authority of Senate. Upcoming appointments are generally advertised through professional networks and/or the JISCmail external examiner discussion forum and email list.
Nominations initially run for up to four years and can be exceptionally extended for one further year. Appointments will normally run from 1 October to 30 September but this may vary depending on the requirements of the particular course of study.
Once the Panel has approved the appointment, the External Examiner will receive a letter detailing the start and finish dates of the appointment, the course or group of courses for which the External Examiner has responsibility and the expectations associated with the appointment.
The letter will also specify that remuneration is conditional upon the External Examiner properly carrying out their duties. This includes the timely submission of an Annual Report, and the completion of the required visits to the University or to students on placement.
Schools will also provide detailed information regarding the following:
- Specific details regarding the modules for which an external examiner is responsible
- Contact details for academic and administrative staff
- Dates of Module and/or Assessment Boards where attendance is required
External examiners will also receive an outline of expected types and format of assessments to be examined, including anticipated sample size. This will be based on information available at the time of appointment and will be updated by the School annually when the delivery model for the year has been confirmed.
In order to comply with its legal duties under the Asylum and Immigration Act (1996) and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the University must ensure it has checked that any person undertaking paid work with the University, even if the work is not undertaken on a contract of employment, is eligible to work in the UK. The UKVI has published a Right to Work checklist which indicates the types of documentation used to confirm an individual's eligibility.
This information will be checked prior to the appointment being taken up and copies of documentation will be held within the Academic Registry and stored for the statutory period after the end of the appointment. Access to the copied documentation will be strictly limited and the University will only make this information available to HMRC and/or UKVI officials should they request it.
Further information is available on the UKVI Website.
Induction & Interim Visits
All newly appointed External Examiners will be invited to attend an induction day. Professional practitioner External Examiners who do not have a background in academia, and appointees who have not previously held an External Examiner post, will be especially encouraged to attend the induction day.
Attending an induction will give you the opportunity to be briefed on the key duties and responsibilities of your role and trends, areas of concern and good practice that have been highlighted to the University in previous annual reports.
If you are unable to attend for an induction, please download a copy of the presentation.
All External Examiners are expected to attend an Interim Visit midway through the academic year. This will give you an opportunity to meet with School staff and course teams, meet students and review student work. You will also be able to be updated on any changes to procedures and policies.
To book an interim visit, please contact the Student and Course Administration Team.
Boards & Regulations
Exam Boards at Bucks are normally a two-stage process and are divided between Module Boards and Assessment Boards. In some cases, particularly where there are small, self-contained courses, the two may be conflated.
- Module Boards are where module marks are discussed and confirmed and module statistics are considered.
- Assessment Boards are where individual student profiles are considered in accordance with University regulations. They also provide external examiners an opportunity to give verbal feedback on the course as a whole.
External examiners are an equal member of the relevant Board, whether at module, programme, award or other level. They are expected to confirm that decisions made are in accordance with the University's regulations, that all students are treated in an equitable manner, and to identify good practice and suggest how this can be disseminated.
If they are unable to attend a Board, external examiners are required to submit an In Absentia Report Form so that their comments can be taken into consideration and be included in the formal Board Record. All comments made at Boards should feed into the annual report.
UPDATE: For 2020, we have prepared a new May 2020 version of the In Absentia Report to enable examiners to comment on the University's response to the coronavirus outbreak.
All of the University's regulations, policies and procedures can be found at our Policies page. Directly relevant policies and regulations are linked here as Useful Documents.
External examiners may also wish to refer to our student facing Academic Advice pages and, in particular, the sections on Assessment and Examination and Results, where information on other university processes such as academic misconduct, appeals, exceptional circumstances, reasonable adjustments for disabled students, and fitness to practise may be located.
All external examiners are required to complete and submit an annual report. Reports provide an independent and objective appraisal of the standard and quality of provision within an institution. As such, they form a crucial body of evidence for internal periodic review processes and for external reviews.
The report should be filled in and submitted online. External examiners will be sent a link to where the report can be completed. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need the link or for any other questions regarding the report.
Content of the Annual Report
The annual report is intended to provide the University with clear and informed feedback on the following areas:
- Setting of coursework assignments - alignment of learning outcomes and benchmarking to national and sector standards
- Marking and feedback - fairness and consistency of marking, equivalence of achievement across cohorts and comparable institutions, and clarity and the supportive nature of feedback provided
- Programme content - especially in relation to the latest developments in the particular field
- Decision-making with respect to student progression and achievement - fairness and consistency to regulations of decisions made at module and assessment boards
The report will also ask external examiners to confirm that they received sufficient evidence to enable them to fulfil their role - typically programme and assessment materials, examination scripts and samples of coursework - and whether issues raised in previous reports have been addressed. External examiners will also be asked to identify good practice, comment on the currency of the curriculum, and recommend actions for the subject area.
Names of individual staff and students must not be named in reports as these will be shared with students. This does not apply to confidential reports addressed to the Vice-Chancellor (see below).
- 1 August annually for most full-time undergraduate courses
- For courses that do not run to the academic year a submission date will be agreed with the School and Academic Registry on appointment.
All reports should be submitted by email to email@example.com. Reports will be formally receipted by a member of the Academic Registry.
Once received, reports will be rated by the Academic Registry using a simple Red-Amber-Green (RAG) rating system. They will then be shared with Schools for their response. These should be detailed and should be completed as soon as is practical. Responses will be confirmed by the Head of School before being returned to External Examiners.
In exceptional circumstances, i.e. if an External Examiner wishes to raise a particularly significant or sensitive issue, they may report such issues individually and confidentially directly to the Vice-Chancellor of the University. The Vice-Chancellor will initiate any actions deemed appropriate and respond to the External Examiner accordingly. Such reports will not be shared with students.
If an External Examiner has serious concerns about the academic standards or the quality of provision at the University they may refer their concerns either to the relevant Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body or to the QAA to be investigated through the Cause for Concern procedures. Such actions cannot be considered as grounds for terminating an External Examiner's appointment by the University.
An external examiner must have exhausted all internal procedures, including the submission of a confidential report to the Vice-Chancellor, before having recourse to the QAA's concerns scheme. Serious concerns should be addressed to:
Assistant Director (Complaints and Concerns)
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
Fees and Expenses
All rail and air tickets and accommodation must be booked through the Student and Course Administration Team in the Academic Registry. The University will not be able to reimburse travel and accommodation booked independently.
For other expenses, please use the external examiners claims form (Excel).
Claims for expenses incurred by an External Examiner during their appointment with Buckinghamshire New University, must be submitted within 3 months of the date of expense and the original receipts and tickets must be stapled to the claims form. Credit card statements, booking, registration or application forms, cheque stubs etc. do not qualify as receipts. Any claims made outside the 3 month period or claims without receipt will not be reimbursed. Tips or gratuities are not reclaimable. All expenses must be submitted on a claims form and sent to Student and Course Administration for authorisation.
Expenses can be claimed for the following:
- Mileage @ 45p per mile. This rate is in line with current rates paid to University employees. Buckinghamshire New University reviews its rates and decides whether there should be a change for mileage reimbursement. Mileage allowances paid can increase or decrease at any time.
- 2nd Class rail return ticket. Please note it is expected that the return journey will be from and to the same destination unless otherwise authorised by the School prior to the visit. The Student and Course Administration Team will make any arrangements for a rail ticket and the bill will be invoiced directly to the University.
- Car parking charges
- Accommodation up to £100 per night. Student and Course Administration will make any arrangements for an overnight stay and the bill will be invoiced directly to the University.
- Lunch including other refreshment breaks will be paid to a maximum of £10 per day.
- Evening meal up to £30. Alcoholic beverages will not be reimbursed.
If an External Examiner has been appointed from overseas and is required to attend the University, travel expenses will be paid from the point of entry into the UK. If an External Examiner residing in the United Kingdom is required to visit an Institution outside of the United Kingdom all reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed.
The annual fee payable to each External Examiner is detailed in their appointment letter. The fee structure is determined by the number of credits an External Examiner is responsible for. Should an External Examiner's remit be revised during their appointment the fee will be amended accordingly.
For some subject disciplines, e.g. art and design and some foundation degrees, external examiner arrangements follow a different pattern of engagement. Where this is the case the annual fee will be standardised at £375 and will not be based on the number of credits.
The annual fee will only be paid on receipt of the annual report and confirmation of visits to the University as required by the School.