External examiner reports

QAA guidance suggests that external examiners should be asked to comment on:

  1. the degree-awarding body’s standards and student performance in relation to those standards;
  2. the consistent and fair application of policies and procedures ensuring the integrity and rigour of academic practices;
  3. good practice and possible enhancements.

The template for external examiners’ reports at Oxford Brookes has therefore been designed to ensure that these areas are addressed. External examiners’ reports are an important source of direct evidence on the academic standards of awards and of indirect evidence on the quality of the University’s programmes of study leading to its awards. An annual summary of institutional themes and issues, including good practice and areas of concern (which are serious, or common across a number of reports) is prepared by the Head of the Academic Policy & Quality Office for consideration by the University’s Quality & Learning Infrastructure Committee. External examiners’ reports, together with responses from programme teams, also provide evidence on the quality and standards of provision which is used in the annual quality monitoring process, and considered by periodic review and revalidation panels.

As the annual reports are key documents in assuring the academic standards of the University’s awards, it is essential that external examiners’ reports are comprehensive and that they cite the evidence upon which their judgements and comments are based. Reports for collaborative programmes are, where appropriate, expected to distinguish between issues that relate to the home programme and those that relate to the provision delivered by different partners. If, in the judgement of the University, a report is inadequate, the external examiner may be asked to resubmit it. Failure to submit reports in a timely fashion, or to provide them to an adequate standard in the required format, will be regarded as grounds upon which to terminate an external examiner’s contract.

An external examiner has the right to report directly to the Vice Chancellor on matters which they consider to pose a serious risk to the academic standards of an Oxford Brookes award. They are provided with guidance on how to do this in the External Examiner’s Handbook, along with information about recourse to sector bodies in the event that an issue cannot be satisfactorily addressed through internal procedures. Visit the QAA page on how to make a complaint

External examiners’ reports are made available to staff and students on the relevant programmes, via the VLE or programme handbook. The University does not place the full reports received from external examiners in the public domain, but under the Freedom of Information Act it may be asked to release them on request. The information released in response to requests for the personal details of external examiners will be limited to name, job title and the name and address of the examiner’s employer as this concerns an examiner’s professional and working life and such information is considered to be already in the public domain. If an examiner is retired, they will be described as ‘independent’.

Processing of external examiners’ reports

Annual reports should be submitted by email on an electronic template to the External Examiners Administrator (via registry-externals@brookes.ac.uk). Receipt will be acknowledged by the APQO, who will then make arrangements for payment of the examiner’s fee. The APQO will send out reminders to external examiners when reports are due, or overdue.

Once received, the report is sent to the Subject Coordinator or Programme Lead, and/or the Liaison Manager (for collaborative provision), the link QAO and Faculty staff responsible for academic quality and standards: namely, the ADSE, FHQAV, and the Faculty Quality Officer. For collaborative provision, the Liaison Manager is responsible for ensuring that reports are copied to the programme manager at the partner organisation.

Responses are prepared by the Subject Coordinator or Programme Lead, liaising as necessary with the ADSE and Directorates to incorporate responses to any institutional issues that have been raised. Responses should be approved by the Faculty AESC/QLIC Chair and sent out to the external examiner within six weeks of the report, copied to the APQO through the link QAO.

The report will also form part of the evidence considered during the annual quality monitoring process. Any issues identified for action by the external examiner should be included in the action plan at the appropriate level, and this should also be sent to the external examiner.

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