1. Who can work as an external Examiner?

The National criteria for the appointment of external examiners sets out exactly who can apply.

Every external examiner is expected to have:

  • Competency, knowledge and experience in the subject area of the course, module or programme.
  • Academic or professional qualifications to the same level or above of the qualification being externally examined.
  • Experience of setting examinations and running assessment procedures, either internal or external.
  • Sufficient credibility and experience within the discipline to gain the respect of colleagues.
  • Familiarity with the standard expected of students in the course to be examined.
  • Fluency in English, or where appropriate, another language.
  • Met the standard of criteria set by the professional and accredited bodies.
  • Knowledge and awareness of new developments in the design and provision of the flexible curriculum.
  • Experience in enhancing the student experience.

Previous staff and students can only be appointed as an external examiner in the same institution no less than 5 years after leaving the institution.

Retired academics may be considered for an external examining role if they can provide sufficient evidence of continuous involvement in the subject area.

External examiners should not hold more than two external examiner positions at any given time

To avoid a conflict of interest, external examiners may not be appointed if they are:

  • A court member.
  • A governor.
  • A close relative of a member of staff or student involved in the programme of study.
  • An external examiner on a related course within the institution.
  • Closely associated with the sponsorship of students on the course.
  • Closely associated with training placements.
  • Required to asses colleagues who are recruited as students on the programme of study.
  • In a position that can influence the future of students on the programme of study
  • Involved in collaborative research activities with a member of staff.
  • Anyone who has directly been involved as an external member in the validation of the module
  • Reciprocal arrangements between institutions are strictly prohibited.
  • The replacement of an external examiner by a colleague in the same department at the same institution is prohibited.
  • No more than one external examiner should be appointed to a programme from any one department.
  • The appointment of an external examiner lasts for the duration of four years, with an exceptional extension of one year.
  • An external examiner may be reappointed in exceptional circumstances, but only after a period of 5 years since their last appointment.
  • Associates who are new to external examining or have professional or industry experience relevant to a vocational programme can be appointed providing they are part of a team and mentored by a current external examiner who meets the above criteria.

The main responsibilities of external examiners are:

  • To provide informative comment and recommendations on whether the programme/s and /or module/s in the remit of the external examiner meet the threshold academic standards set for its awards in accordance with the frameworks for higher education qualifications and applicable benchmark statements.
  • To provide informative comment and recommendations upon whether the assessment process measures student achievement rigorously  and fairly against the intended outcomes of the programme/s and is conducted in line with the relevant policies and regulations.
  • To check whether the academic standards and achievements of students are comparable with those in other UK higher education establishments of which the external examiner has experience.

In addition to these  responsibilities, the external examiner is asked to provide informed comment and recommendations on any good practice or innovation relating to learning, teaching and assessment they observe

and also opportunities to enhance the quality of the learning opportunities provided  to the students.

Why work as an external examiner?

  • In the UK and Ireland, the higher education sector is reliant on the external examiner system.
  • Each university in the UK and Ireland regularly needs to recruit external examiners.
  • External examiners are paid.
  • The external examining system allows academics to develop both their academic network and career.
  • External examining allows for the sharing of best practice.

2. What is an External Expert?

Professional and awarding bodies continually update their suite of qualifications to meet regulatory and market needs.  These quality assurance processes require input from experts operating with a given field who are external or the professional/awarding body.  This could mean commenting on documentation, sharing professional experience or attending a discussion group to bring real world employability into qualification design and re-validaiton.  Each organisation will have its own daily fee rate and most will cover expenses too.

3. Why have freelance writers?

From time to time organisations will not have the expertise in-house on their permanent staff, or be on a tight timeline,  to produce various documentation required for articles, modules, teaching materials and complete courses.  Universities, professional bodies, awarding bodies and other businesses will commission individuals as necessary to ensure their provision is both up to date and delivered on time.  Each organisation will have its own fee rate per document commissioned.

4. Who can become a Governor?

Schools, colleges and universities are all required to have governing bodies.  Anyone aged over 18 and living in the UK can become a governor.  As a critical friend you will support the senior management team to ensure robust long term planning.  This can contribute by influencing;

  • Goal setting
  • Performance
  • Monitoring processes
  • Staff appointments
  • Budgets

Most of us will have real life and work experiences that can contribute greatly to the efficient running of a school, college or university.  All governors are offered free training, and on going support.  The time commitment is typically 12-15 hours per term (3 months).  This takes the form of meetings, reading papers and the occasional visit to the school/college in session.  As a public duty, like magistrates, most firms will allow employees reasonable time off work to perform these roles, albeit unpaid.