Appointment criteria

  • The quality of the evidence produced by external examiners is dependent on their independence and their expertise. Their independence should not be compromised by prior association with the programme team, or by any reciprocal arrangement that exists between the Oxford Brookes subject team and that of the external examiner. They should also be ‘expert witnesses’, whose authority is derived from their knowledge of the discipline they are examining and their experience of assessment. The appointment criteria for external examiners at Oxford Brookes are therefore designed to ensure that nominees are able to exercise impartial, independent and expert judgement on the academic standards of the University’s awards, and they are consistent with the QAA’s advice and guidance on External Expertise.

    Faculties must therefore take into account the following points in their consideration of external examiner nominations (PSRB requirements must also be taken into account, where applicable):

  • External examiners must demonstrate appropriate levels of experience within the discipline, including academic or professional qualifications to at least the level of the qualification they are appointed to examine. They should have sufficient standing and breadth of experience in the discipline (as a practitioner, where appropriate) to be able to command the respect of colleagues within the sector. Nominees from outside the HE sector should be appointed as part of a team of external examiners, since the University requires assurance on the standards of its awards in the context of the Framework for Higher Education and other relevant sector benchmarks, as well as in the context of industry/professional requirements.
    External examiners must have a good understanding of the standard to be expected of students studying on the programme they are appointed to examine. Nominees should therefore have experience of curriculum design, teaching and internal examining in the discipline area, and at the level for which they are being appointed. Examiners should also have an awareness of current developments in teaching and learning in the discipline, therefore retirees may only be considered for appointment if they are able to provide evidence of their continuing involvement in the academic/professional area concerned. Nominees with no previous external examining experience should be appointed as part of a team, and the proposing Department must provide additional information to support such nominations, including an outline of the arrangements that will be put in place to ensure they are mentored by an appropriately experienced external examiner within the established team.
    External examiners should not be appointed if they already hold two or more current external examinerships. On and sufficient examiners should be appointed to cover a programme to ensure each has a reasonable workload, given the volume of work to review within the University timescales. If a team of external examiners is large, a chief external examiner may be appointed: the chief external examiner must have sufficient expertise to be able to make a judgement of the standards achieved across the programme as a whole, and will be paid an additional fee for the production of an overview report.

    Nominees should not have been involved in the delivery of the programme at Oxford Brookes - as lecturer, consultant, or placement provider - nor should they have been an external adviser through the programme development and approval process. To avoid potential conflicts of interest, nominees should also not be appointed as external examiners if they are:

    • closely associated with the sponsorship of students on the programme;
    • in a position to significantly influence the future of students on the programme;
    • involved in collaborative research activities with a member of staff in the Department; or
    • are a near relation of a member of staff or student associated with the programme.

    Note: External members of programme approval panels are required to meet criteria to ensure their objectivity and independence from the design of the programme, and their appointment as external examiners at a later stage is therefore not considered to present a conflict of interest.

    No member of the proposing academic subject group should be an external examiner in the same institution as the nominee.
    The external examining team (within a subject group) must not contain two external examiners who are or who were recently colleagues, nor should colleagues from the same department in the same institution be appointed to take over from each other.
    A nominee who has been a student or member of staff at Oxford Brookes University within the previous five years is not eligible for appointment as an external examiner. They may, however, be considered for appointment after a period of at least five years has elapsed. Members of the University’s Board of Governors are not eligible for appointment as external examiners.
    To meet Home Office requirements on the prevention of illegal working, the APQO will carry out a check on the nominee’s eligibility to work in the UK prior to confirmation of their appointment. A guidance note on this procedure is available on the APQO website.
    Oxford Brookes University is committed to the advancement of equality, diversity and inclusion, and seeks, through all its policies and actions, to be a genuinely inclusive organisation. Programme Leads are asked to bear this in mind when nominating external examiners; and are strongly encouraged to nominate individuals who have appropriate subject knowledge and are also able to advise on inclusive approaches to curriculum design, teaching and learning.

    The University retains responsibility for the academic standards of any awards made in its name and is therefore responsible for the appointment of external examiners for collaborative provision, who must meet the criteria above. Additional notes and requirements relating to examiners appointed to collaborative programmes are set out below:

    Nominees must be independent of both the partner organisation and the University, and is primarily acting on behalf of the University in enabling it to maintain oversight of the standards of its awards. For programmes of study leading to joint awards, the arrangements for external examining should be agreed and specified at the point of approval.

    Where matching programmes are delivered on-campus and at a partner organisation, or by a number of different partners, the same external examiner should – if possible - be appointed to oversee the provision as a whole, in order to enable the University to make a comparison of the standards of its awards delivered at home and through collaborative arrangements. If, for logistical reasons, an examiner is only able to cover the collaborative programme, efforts should be made to provide a sample of work by home students to enable them to make a comparison of standards of achievement.

    For provision delivered and/or assessed in a language other than English, the external examiner must be able to work fluently in both English and the language of delivery/assessment.

    Non-UK based external examiners must have experience of delivering and assessing in a UK HEI and be familiar with the current standards required of a UK award in the discipline concerned, but a non-UK subject specialist may be paired with an examiner from a UK HEI where a nominee lacks such experience. Advice should be sought from the APQO when considering such an arrangement.