QAA guidance suggests that external examiners should be asked to comment on:
- the degree-awarding body’s standards and student performance in relation to those standards;
- the consistent and fair application of policies and procedures ensuring the integrity and rigour of academic practices;
- 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’.