As with all universities in the UK, the University of St Mark & St John is responsible for the quality of the education it provides and for the academic standards of the awards it offers. The role of the External Examiner is to ensure that it maintains nationally and internationally comparable academic standards; it is crucial, therefore, to the University’s quality assurance procedures. External Examiners also assist the University by advising on good practice in teaching, learning and assessment.
The External Examiners’ Handbook, which is updated annually, sets out the policies and procedures relating to the appointment, roles, duties, rights and responsibilities of External Examiners. It also aligns throughout with Chapter B7 of the QAA’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education.
A generic list of documents, which sets out details of the documentation received by External Examiners and the relevant timescales, is accessible here.
External Examiner appointments are made by the University’s Academic Quality and Standards Committee on the authority of Academic Board. External Examiners are normally appointed for four academic sessions and a roster of appointments is made available to staff and students.
Induction and mentoring
New External Examiners are invited to an annual induction event, which takes place during their first session of appointment. A mentor is also assigned to External Examiners who have no previous experience of external examining.
Home office checks
In line with Home Office regulations, the University is obliged to verify the identity of all newly-appointed External Examiners, and their right to work in the UK, before arrangements can be put into place to pay them for their External Examiner duties. This is normally done at the annual induction event.
Rights and responsibilities
External Examiners are responsible for a defined list of modules which may, or may not, correspond with specific programmes. Deans are responsible for ensuring that every module offered by their Faculty is assigned to an External Examiner. General External Examiners oversee a range of awards, in line with the University’s two-tier system of Assessment Boards. External Examiners are responsible for assuring the overall standards of the University’s awards, and do not contribute to the assessment process by acting as second markers.
External Examiners normally report annually, by way of a standard report form which is sent to them immediately before the Assessment Boards. They are expected to report within four weeks of the date of the Boards, so that their findings can be discussed at the beginning of the following academic session. Responses to reports are prepared and signed off by Deans of Faculty, to be returned to External Examiners prior to the following Boards. The findings of External Examiners also contribute to the annual monitoring process.