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.
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:
Previous involvement with programme
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.
Association with the University
Right to work in the UK
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. Nominees should not be asked to undertake any duties associated with their proposed employment until this check has been completed, and an appointment letter issued.
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 link Quality Assurance Officer when considering such an arrangement.