External Peer Review

This section of the framework covers the management of threshold standards by means of external participation in academic standards.

Key reference points

Relevant benchmark statements, Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, UWE Bristol Strategy 2020, QAA Quality Code.

Audience

Associate Deans, Heads of Department, Programme Managers, Module Leaders, developers of new programmes/programme design teams, members of committees involved in the approval, monitoring and review of academic provision, external partners.

External peer review section process sheets

Section documents, templates and quality process sheets.

External peer review sections

1. Scope

This section of the Quality Management and Enhancement Framework (QMEF) sets out the structure for independent external participation in the management of threshold academic standards.

External participation is carried out by:
  • External Examiners (taught)
  • External Academic Advisers
  • Periodic Curriculum Review External Panel Members
  • CAP (Curriculum Approval Panel)  External Reviewers

2. Principles

External peer reviewers are appointed to provide the university with independent, impartial judgement and advice regarding the quality and standards of the provision.  They are drawn both from academics at other institutions and professional practitioners. Their role is to ensure that the University’s Academic Regulations (including any approved variant regulations) and Academic Procedures in relation to assessment are applied appropriately, that nationally agreed levels of standards and quality are being upheld and that student performance is comparable to that at other institutions.

External examining in particular is a key part of the framework. A definition and the overall standard roles and responsibilities of External Examiners are detailed in Section I4 of UWE’s Academic Regulations. External Examiners roles and responsibilities may differ for provision governed by approved variant regulations, which reflect specific requirements for external bodies or collaborative partners.

The external examining part of this document is informed by the Quality Assurance Agency’s Quality Code: Chapter B7 External Examining and confirms the criteria and procedures for the selection, appointment and approval of External Examiners and for their annual reporting. Process notes identifying the procedures are linked from this document.  The External examiners resources website provides information and guidance to appointed UWE External Examiners, including an Operational Guide for External Examiner’s.

3. External examining (taught)

3.1 Key roles and responsibilities

The University’s Academic Regulations require that External Examiners are appointed to one of the following (see section 14 of UWE's Academic Regulations):

a) Field of Study - known as Modular Field External Examiners. Field External Examiners will have responsibility within a subject discipline for a specified number of assigned modules and module runs (instances of delivery (eg some modules which sit within the field of study may also be delivered by a collaborative partner). Each field is allocated a team of Field External Examiners, which has been selected by a faculty to represent a range of academic perspectives on the subject, and a variety of institutions. Further details on the role of Modular Field External Examiners can be found in the Academic Regulations or the External Examiners Operational Guide which can be found on the External examiners resources website. Additionally, Field External Examiners may be asked to act as External Academic Advisers (see Section 4 below), where they contribute to the design of new curriculum within the appropriate faculty, ensuring that external frameworks and benchmarks are met.

b) Faculty Modular Scheme within a Faculty - known as Modular Scheme Chief External Examiners. The Chief External Examiners are responsible for the overall assessment process and for ensuring parity of approach to assessment across all awards available within the Scheme. Some of the awards which sit in the Modular Scheme may be delivered by a collaborative partner. Further details on the role of Modular Scheme Chief External Examiners can be found in the Academic Regulations or the External Examiners Operational Guide which can be found on the External examiners resources website.

c) Non-Modular Award – known as Non-Modular External Examiners. For non-modular awards, External Examiners are appointed to an award and are responsible for ensuring that assessment arrangements are properly undertaken at subject and award level. Some of the non modular awards may be delivered by a  collaborative partner. One of the non-modular External Examiners will be appointed as a Chief External Examiner for the award, but they must not then be the sole External Examiner for it. Further details on the role of non-modular externals can be found in the Academic Regulations or the External Examiners Operational Guide which can be found on the External examiners resources website. Additionally, Non-Modular External Examiners may be asked to contribute to the design of new curriculum relevant to their expertise, ensuring that external frameworks and benchmarks are met, acting as External Academic Advisers (see section 4 below).

d) The functions and responsibilities of Field and Chief External Examiners/Programme External Examiners are quite different. They reflect the distinction between fields (where learning is assessed for credit) and awards (where a student’s accumulation of credit and overall performance is matched with the requirements of an award).

3.2 Responsibilities of the UWE academic

a) The UWE Field Leader (or academic colleague responsible with managing the External Examiners within a field of study) will:

  • Seek and nominate an appropriate Field External Examiner to the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team (who will provide annual data confirming where new external examiners are required – see section 4 below).
  • Be able to provide information to the External Examiner regarding the particular context of the field/award/modular scheme within which they are examining, particularly with regard to examining assessment from our collaborative partners (in the UK and/or International) or linked to professional, statutory or regulatory bodies.
  • Have oversight of the process in selecting an appropriate sample of scripts to be sent to an External Examiner as defined within Stage 6 of the assessment cycle.
  • Upon request from the programme design team lead, help identify the appropriate Field or Non-Modular External Examiner to contribute towards the design of new/revised curriculum, ensuring that they have relevant subject expertise. If the new curriculum sits within a new subject area and there are no External Examiners with the relevant subject expertise; a new External Academic Advisor will be appointed. Please see section 4 of this Section and the Curriculum Design and Approval section of the QMEF for further information.  
  • Have responsibility for considering External Examiner annual reports, and managing the Faculty responses back to the External Examiner in conjunction with the relevant Head of Department. Field Leaders should note any areas of good practice for dissemination or areas of concern which need to be shared within their field of study. Good practice or issues which are to be taken forward at a Faculty or University level (through the Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee (LTSEC), are identified within the annual Faculty and University enhancement thematic review report (see section 3.13).

In cases where provision included within an External Examiner’s portfolio is delivered by a partner Institution, an allocated Link Tutor (one per Institution) will also identify when a new External Examiner is needed, and provide further information regarding the partnership and any approved variant regulations.

The Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching will be responsible for nominating and providing further information to Chief External Examiners. Programme External Examiners will be nominated by the Head of Department (or equivalent).

3.3 Nomination and appointment

The nomination and appointment processes at UWE have been designed to ensure that the external examining system is robust and transparent and that the University appoints External Examiners who have the necessary expertise and experience to carry out their duties.

Throughout the process there are steps which provide checks and balances to assure maintenance of our academic standards and legal obligations. These include the implementation of:

  • Robust appointment criteria.
  • Detailed nomination forms.
  • Institutional-level oversight of nomination and appointment processes.
  • Right to Work, data protection and record retention procedures.
  • Predefined duration for periods of appointment.  

Details on the procedure for the nomination and appointment process for External Examiners can be found in Quality Process Note 51 QPS51.

3.3.1 Appointment criteria

When considering the appointment of External Examiners a number of criteria are applied to ensure that the nominee is competent and impartial and that examining teams are well balanced and diverse.
All nominees will be tested against these criteria as part of the appointment process, and the Field Leader (or academic colleague responsible for managing External Examiners within a field of study) is advised to make reference to them when considering potential candidates for nomination.

UWE’s appointment criteria for all External Examiners are outlined below. Additional information, advice and guidance is provided in a box following each criterion to support its implementation. Also outlined, in some cases, are possible legitimate exceptions to the criteria.

The criteria are:

  1. Academic and/or professional qualifications and expertise
  2. Standing and Experience
  3. Independence, objectivity and Impartiality
  4. Variety of institutions and professional contexts
  5. Workload

Criterion 1: Academic and/or professional qualifications and expertise

External Examiners must have:
 
a) Knowledge of UK sector wide reference points for the maintenance of academic standards and assurance and enhancement of quality;
b) Competence and experience in the discipline area covered by the programmes and/or modules within their portfolio.
c) Academic and/or professional qualifications to at least the level of the provision which they will examine, and/or extensive practitioner experience (where appropriate).
d) Met applicable criteria set out by professional, statutory or regulatory bodies (where relevant).

The University would seek assurance that the nominee would:

  • Under Criteria 1(a): Have a sound understanding of the UK Higher Education sector reference points, for example the QAA Framework or Higher Education Qualifications and any relevant subject benchmark statements, and additionally any further external body reference points.
  • Under Criteria 1(b): Be working, or have strong experience, in a relevant professional or academic field.
  • Under Criteria 1(c): Have academic and/or professional qualifications which match or exceed the provision which they are examining – for instance if they were to exam M-level modules we would expect them to be educated to that level or above.
  • Under Criteria 1(d): Be a registered member of the relevant PSRB and meet any additional requirements stipulated by the PSRB for the experience and expertise needed for this External Examiner. For additional guidance on meeting these criteria please refer to the relevant PSRB documentation or contact the Curriculum Review and Accreditation Manager in Academic Services.

Criterion 2: Standing and experience

External Examiners must have:

a) Sufficient standing, credibility and breadth of experience within the discipline to be able to command respect of academic and professional peers.
b) Familiarity with the standard, level and learning outcomes to be expected of students to achieve the award/module which is being assessed.
c) Fluency in English, and/or fluency in another relevant language in which the programme/module are delivered.
d) Experience and expertise of designing and operating a variety of assessment tasks and examining procedures appropriate to the subject and level
e) Awareness of current developments in the design and delivery of flexible provision. 
f) Expertise in the enhancement of the student learning experience.
g) Where a nominee is a retired/ex-academic or a retired/ex-professional practitioner, demonstrable continuing involvement with (or access to) the academic/professional area in question, and with current developments in the profession and/or higher education teaching, learning and assessment.
h) Experience in delivery of collaborative provision (UK and/or international), where relevant;
i) The Right to Work in the UK (where work is to be undertaken in the UK – in limited circumstances this may not be essential for External Examiner’s appointed to provision which is ONLY delivered by an overseas partner Institution i.e. Validation model and the work is carried out abroad).

The University would seek assurance that the nominee has:

  • Under Criteria 2(a): Been in a relevant post, either academic or professional, for a suitable period of time and at an appropriate level such that they are able to possess the experience and knowledge to undertake the external examining role. This could also be demonstrated with membership of professional and/or HE Sector bodies.
  • Under Criteria 2(b): Where the nominee is an academic, had experience of delivering similar provision at an appropriate level. For Chief External Examiner/Programme External Examiner nominations, consideration will be given to experience of the nominee at award, rather than module, level and at the appropriate academic level.
  • Under Criteria 2(c): Where the provision is delivered at one of UWE’s international collaborative partners in a language other than English relevant linguistic skills would need to be evidenced.
  • Under Criteria 2(d): As a minimum, experience of internal assessment approach and examining procedure at the relevant level at their own institution. Ideally the nominee would have, in addition, current or previous external examining experience. For Chief External Examiner nominations consideration will also be given to the nominee’s experience at Chairing complex award boards (or equivalent) and previous external examining experience (though not necessarily as a Chief) would be required.
  • Under Criteria 2(e): Where reflected substantially in the proposed examining provision, experience of different modes of teaching and learning – such as work based learning, blended, research informed teaching or technology enhanced learning.
  • Under Criteria 2(f): Some experience of the enhancement of the student experience through undertaking QME processes at their own institution.
  • Under Criteria 2(g): The ability to stay up to date with developments in both the discipline/professional area and/or wider approaches to teaching, learning and assessment. This could be through an on-going active affiliation with an HE institution/professional practice employer or by engaging with professional development supported by programme staff at UWE and fellow External Examiners.
  • Under Criteria 2(h): Some experience of delivering/examining provision through collaborative partnerships (and where relevant, international sector approach and practice) where the nominee’s proposed portfolio has significant collaborative aspects.
  • Under Criteria 2(i): The Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 states that every employer in the UK is required to check their employees’ entitlement to work in the UK. External Examiners are considered by the Act to be undertaking work at UWE and nominees are required to prove their entitlement to work in the UK (further details can be found in the relevant section of this framework).

Possible legitimate exceptions:

In the case of professional practitioners it is possible that the nominee will be unable to fulfil Criteria 2(b,d,e,f and h). Such nominations will be considered on behalf of Academic Board on a case by case basis. Consideration will be given to the requirement of the examining role, the constitution of the existing field team and the ability of the programme team to support the development of the nominee to ensure that they are able to understand and engage with these aspects of their position. Reference should also be made to Criteria 1 (a), 4 (c) and (d) in these instances.

Where the nominee has no previous or current external examining experience, the extent of their internal experience will be taken into consideration. Where such a nominee would be joining a field team, a more experienced External Examiner(s) may be required to act as mentor(s) and tailored training and development could be provided by UWE to support the nominee as they undertake their role.

Criterion 3: Independence, objectivity and impartiality

a) Former staff and students of UWE (or on a UWE programme at one of its collaborative partners) can only be appointed as External Examiners for the University after a period of not less than five years has passed since leaving UWE, and all students taught by or with the nominee have completed their study;
b) To avoid conflicts of interest, External Examiners should not be appointed if they are any of the following:
   i. A member of any UWE or collaborative partner Academic or Governors’ Board or its committees
   ii. A near relative of a member of staff or student involved with the programme(s) or modules
   iii. Closely associated with the sponsorship of students on the module/programme
   iv. Required to assess colleagues who are recruited as students on the programme/module
   v. In a position to significantly influence the future of students on the programme of study/module
   vi. Involved in collaborative research activities with a member UWE staff who contributes to the programme/module
   vii. Have close previous associations or professional relationship with a member of staff or student involved with the programme of study
c) Reciprocal arrangements between closely linked programmes in two institutions are not allowed.
d) External Examiners are not permitted to hold appointments simultaneously as a Field and a Chief External Examiner.
e) An External Examiner may be re-appointed in exceptional circumstances but only after a period of five years has elapsed since their last appointment.
f) Careful consideration (demonstrated through outlining a rationale) for the appointment of an external academic adviser or Periodic Curriculum Review External Panel Member who has been involved in the design or approval/re-approval of the programme/modules will be required.

The University would seek assurance that appointment of the nominee would not allow for any risk to their impartiality or objectivity as they undertake their role – and hence impact on the robustness of UWE’s quality management process. It is important that students, external stakeholders and sector peers are assured that UWE’s External Examiners are appointed to make independent judgements, uninfluenced by any close relationship to provision which they are examining. It is also important that our External Examiners are not compromised in their local environment by undertaking such a role with the University. Any potential conflict of interest would need to be interrogated further and resolved in order for the nominee to be appointed.

External academic advisers and Periodic Curriculum Review External Panel Members used in the design or approval/re-approval of new curriculum can subsequently be appointed as tenured external examiners with the appropriate rationale provided.

Possible legitimate exceptions:

Any exceptions granted under this criterion will be considered carefully on behalf of Academic Board. Potential exceptions could be granted in circumstances where, for example, the discipline is small and specialist, leading to a restricted pool of potential External Examiners.

Criterion 4: Variety of institutions and professional contexts

a) No more than one External Examiner should be appointed to a field/programme from the same institution and/or employer.
b) The replacement of an outgoing External Examiner by a colleague from the same department his/her host institution is not allowed.
c) Where professional practitioners are appointed they should not be the sole examiner in the field or for a programme.
d) There should be a suitable balance within a field/programme between academic and professional practitioners (where relevant).

The University will seek assurance that External Examiners are drawn from a wide variety of institutional/professional contexts and traditions in order that the assessment process benefits from wide-ranging external scrutiny. To assure that students are assessed fairly, there should be an appropriate balance and expertise in the team of External Examiners both in terms of subject expertise and examining expertise and between academic and professional practitioners. A range of academic perspectives, as necessary, should be represented in the external examining team. The phasing of appointments to the team should be structured to ensure continuity.

Possible legitimate exceptions:

A possible exception could be granted under Criteria 4(a) or (b) where the discipline is small and specialist, leading to a restricted pool of potential External Examiners.

Criterion 5: Workload

(a) External Examiners must normally hold no more than two External Examiner appointments at any one point in time.
(b) External Examiners may be permitted to hold appointments simultaneously as a field and a non-modular award examiner.

The University will seek assurance that nominee's external examining workload is not unduly onerous and that it will be compatible with the role and duties needed to undertake this new role.

Possible legitimate exceptions:

A possible exception could be granted under Criteria 5(a) where the discipline is small and specialist and hence the pool of potential External Examiners is therefore restricted or where evidence can be provided that multiple concurrent appointments would not impact on the nominee’s ability to carry out the requirements of examining role at UWE.

3.4 Induction

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team run an annual conference for new External Examiner’s (including those which have been appointed to collaborative provision), with focused, specific workshops on the induction of new External Examiners. See 3.14 below. External Examiners will also be sent, within their appointment letter, a link to the External examiners resources website which includes the External Examiner Operational Guide. 

3.5 Period of appointment

The normal period of appointment for External Examiners is a maximum of four years.  An extension for a fifth year may be possible in certain circumstances to ensure continuity, in particular in the case of collaborative arrangements. The period of appointment for an External Examiner appointed to provision which has been approved to variant regulations may differ (this will be set out in the specific variant regulations).

3.6 Change of responsibilities

The External Examiners Team will liaise with Field Leaders in the autumn term to consider re-allocation of modules (based on data provided confirming which modules will be running in that academic year) ensuring that all modules have a suitable External Examiner.

Throughout the duration of an External Examiner’s tenure, it is the responsibility of the Field Leader (or academic colleague responsible for managing External Examiners within a field of study), Link Tutor (for instances where provision is to be delivered by a collaborative partners) or the Head of Department in liaison with the Quality Administrator, the Student Administration Team (for provision delivered at UWE and collaborative partners) and Curriculum Review and Accreditation Manager to notify the Senior External Examiners Officer of the following changes to the External Examiner’s duties:

  • A request to extend the External Examiner’s tenure (section 3.7)
  • A change in the number of module runs (instances of delivery) in the External Examiner’s portfolio including collaborative provision responsibilities.
  • A change in the level of provision where the External Examiners portfolio would include modules at a higher level to that which they had been appointed to (Section 3.8.1). 
  • A change to any Professional, Statutory or Professional Body oversight responsibilities in the External Examiner’s portfolio of modules (section 3.8.2).
  • Re-allocation of an External Examiner to a different field (section 3.8.3).

In cases of an extension to tenure or change of responsibilities, such as re-allocation modules at a higher level to which they had been appointed or modules/module runs which are delivered at a collaborative partner to an External Examiner who did not have any collaborative provision within their portfolio previously, the procedures in Quality Process sheet QPS52  should be followed to ensure the External Examiner has the relevant expertise.

3.7 Extensions to tenure

The normal tenure of an External Examiner is four years. Under the UWE Academic Regulations and Procedures, a faculty may request an exceptional extension of no more than one year to the tenure. These circumstances are considered on a case by case basis, taking into account any precedents. Possible reasons for requesting an extension to tenure include:

  • Retaining an experienced External Examiner when the remaining members of the examining team are inexperienced or new to UWE and/or external examining.
  • Staggering the tenure dates across a team to provide consistent team-wide external examining experience for future years .
  • Enabling continuity of arrangements when significant changes have taken place to provision (for example staff turnover, field restructuring, curriculum review), and ensuring continuity particularly in the case of collaborative provision arrangements.
  • Allowing for the ‘running out’ of the modules or awards which are within the External Examiner’s portfolio.

Difficulty in finding a suitable replacement would not normally be accepted as sufficient reason in itself for an extension, except when the discipline is small and specialist, leading to a restricted pool of potential External Examiners. It is the responsibility of faculties to be proactive in seeking suitable and timely replacements for outgoing External Examiners in a timely fashion.

3.8 Changes to an external examiner’s portfolio

3.8.1 Changes to the number of module runs (instances of delivery) including collaborative provision responsibilities and the level of provision (UG/PG)

Where an External Examiner’s portfolio is proposed to be changed to include (or remove) modules or awards (including those delivered at one or more of UWE’s collaborative partners), the Senior External Examiner Officer must be consulted to ensure:

  • The External Examiner is consulted and management of their workload ensures they are able to discharge their responsibilities appropriately including consideration of;
  • If an External Examiner was originally appointed to examine only undergraduate-level modules, and postgraduate-level modules have been added to that External Examiner’s portfolio (or vice versa). This will ensure that the External Examiner is appropriately qualified and experienced to undertake responsibility for the postgraduate-level modules; 
  • When a module, or modules, in the External Examiner’s portfolio change, and the subject matter of the new modules differs significantly from that covered in the originally approved portfolio
  • If an External Examiner did not have responsibility for modules which were delivered by one of UWEs collaborative partners, but a reallocation of modules/module runs now includes this within their portfolio. This will ensure that the External Examiner has appropriate experience (if a significant portfolio of collaborative provision is allocated) or further guidance can be provided regarding the collaborative partner.
  • The Student Administration Team (SAT) are made aware of the changes;
  • The appropriate fee is applied relating to the fee structure for module runs;
  • The External Examiner central database accurately reflects the External Examiner’s responsibilities (including Collaborative Provision), so that the External Examiner’s annual report template requests specific comment on the relevant award(s) and institution(s);
  • The External Examiner’s annual report is shared with the appropriate colleagues/departments and collaborative partner college/institution, as required by UWE’s monitoring and evaluation processes.

3.8.2 Changes to any professional, statutory or professional body (PSRB) oversight

When an External Examiner takes on, or no longer has responsibility for, oversight of named awards as required by a PSRB, the change must be reported to the Senior External Examiner Officer as soon as possible to ensure:

  • The central database accurately reflects the External Examiner’s PSRB responsibilities, so that the External Examiner’s annual report template requests specific comment on the relevant award(s) for the named PSRB;
  • Where necessary, the PSRB is notified of the change, ensuring all their requirements of the External Examiner are met;
  • The correct fee is paid – if oversight of named awards as required by a PSRB attracts an additional annual fee of £75. This is because such an External Examiner is required to attend the award board for that award, in addition to the field board for the relevant modules;
  • The External Examiner is consulted and informed of the amended responsibilities, including the requirement to attend the award board and make specific comment on their annual report regarding the fit of the provision to the PSRB requirements.  

3.8.3 Changes to the external examiner’s field

If a change to a Field External Examiner’s portfolio of modules results in their responsibilities moving into a different field of study (or an additional field of study), the Senior External Examiner Officer must be consulted to ensure:

  • The External Examiner is consulted;
  • The Student Administration Team (SAT) are made aware of the changes;
  • The External Examiner central database accurately reflects the External Examiner’s responsibilities (including Collaborative Provision), so that the External Examiner’s annual report template requests specific comment on the relevant award(s) and institution(s);
  • The External Examiner’s annual report is shared with the appropriate colleagues/departments and partner college/institution, as required by UWE’s monitoring and evaluation processes.

3.9 Resignation

Should an External Examiner wish to resign before the end of their tenure (as stated on their appointment letter), they should notify the University (i.e. the Senior External Examiners Officer) in writing as early as possible to ensure a replacement can be found promptly. 

3.10 Early termination of appointment

As outlined in the University’s Academic Regulations, the appointment of an External Examiner may be terminated by the University at its sole discretion if the External Examiner has not fulfilled his or her duties in a manner consistent with the standards required by the University. Approved variant regulations may also set out information regarding the early termination of an appointment for an External Examiner.

The decision by the University to initiate an early termination of tenure is not taken lightly. Following transparent discussion with the Faculty and the External Examiner, the termination will be communicated on behalf of the University by a formal letter from the Director of Academic Services.

Failure to submit an annual report would not in itself constitute grounds for an early termination of tenure. However, the University would be seriously concerned if an External Examiner consistently failed to submit reports over successive years. Other aspects of the role not adhered to, such as regular non attendance at Examining Boards, will also be taken into consideration for the early termination of tenure; the procedures in Quality Process sheet  QPS53 should be followed.

3.11 Professional statutory and regulatory bodies and collaborative provision oversight

3.11.1 Professional statutory and regulatory body oversight

Exceptionally, and only as required by a Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRB) and as agreed by the University, a modular Field External Examiner may be appointed to have oversight of one or more awards carrying professional accreditation or recognition in addition to the responsibilities relating to the field modules.

PSRBs often require an External Examiner to be appointed who has oversight of one or more awards accredited by the PSRB at UWE, in addition to their field examiner responsibilities. In this case the External Examiner will be invited to attend both the relevant field and award boards to allow them to have oversight of the award as a whole.

It is important to check the requirements of the PSRB regarding External Examiners as occasionally they require External Examiners to be appointed who are registered with them. An example of this would be the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC), who require that the External Examiner be on the relevant part of the Register.

It is worthwhile having an External Examiner appointed to have programme oversight over an accredited programme (sitting outside of the pilot for Programme External Examiners) even if it is not necessarily required by the PSRB. UWE’s modular scheme, especially in relation to how External Examiners are appointed, can be unfamiliar to PSRB reviewers and ensuring an External Examiner has programme oversight goes some way in answering any such concerns the PSRB may have.

Where a number of External Examiners have oversight on behalf of a PSRB for a single programme (for example BSc(Hons) Nursing which has specific pathways in Adult, Child, Mental Health and Learning Disability nursing) one External Examiner will be identified as the Lead External to attend the Award Board as well as the Field Board. They would then receive the Annual Reports of all the External Examiners who review work which contributes to the award in order for them to take an informed view of the programme as a whole.

3.11.2 Collaborative provision oversight

Where Field External Examiners have responsibility for modules which are delivered at one of UWE’s collaborative partners they will be asked to review a sample of work from this partner. Where the provision is delivered both at UWE and the collaborative partner External Examiners will consider a sample of work from both the partner and UWE provision. If the External Examiners portfolio only includes modules which are delivered by a collaborative partner, they will be sent a sample of student work from equivalent UWE provision (where applicable) to allow them to draw comparisons.

External Examiner’s with responsibility for modules delivered at UWE and at a collaborative partner may be asked to attend additional field boards which will consider the collaborative provision.

Collaborative Partner colleagues are encouraged to attend Examining Boards (in person or by video conference) and become involved in related activity so External Examiners will have a chance to discuss collaborative provision with these colleagues.

The University has developed a Dual Award Framework which is subject to variant regulations, with Taylor’s University, Malaysia, and for further information regarding the nomination, appointment and annual reporting processes sitting under this framework please see Quality Process Sheet QPS54.

3.12 Annual reporting

External Examiners are required to report once per academic year to the University on the conduct of assessments and on issues related to assessment.  The report is important to the monitoring and evaluation of the University’s academic provision at Departmental and Faculty level (see Annual Monitoring section of the QME Framework) and will inform an overarching report on the academic health of the University to Academic Board. See Quality Process Sheet QPS55.

The External Examiner’s fee is paid upon receipt of the completed annual report.

The University will share External Examiner reports with PSRBs, Collaborative Partners and current students.

The report provides External Examiners with the opportunity to feedback directly on issues for consideration by the University and to make additional comments on any areas not specifically covered in the report. External Examiners completing their tenure are invited to provide a short overview of their term in office. 

Specific questions are asked of External Examiners who have responsibility for UWE provision delivered at any of our collaborative partners and/or oversight of an award on behalf of a professional, statutory or regulatory body.

The reporting template also includes a section to be completed by the Faculty following receipt of the External Examiners comments. This will provide a summary of action taken (or to be taken) in response to External Examiners reports. See Quality Process Sheet QPS55.

3.13 Enhancement activities - University reports

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team makes an annual report to the Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee (LTSEC) drawing together the outcomes, recommendations and commendations from all External Examiner’s reports. This will be considered by LTSEC as part of its annual review of the academic health of the University, and will feed into the enhancement activity undertaken by the Committee. Outcomes of this report may also feed into guidance for curriculum design and approval. See Quality Process Sheet QPS57.

3.14 Annual conference

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team run an annual Conference for External Examiners, and is interactive to enable them to attend workshops which are relevant for their appointment. The agenda and workshops are updated annually to reflect current issues or initiatives at UWE or in the Higher Education sector.

4. External academic advisers

4.1 Key roles and responsibilities

External Academic Advisers will be appointed for the purpose of acting as an external subject expert within a curriculum design team and will either be a current External Examiner with the relevant subject expertise or a new appointment (please see the Curriculum Approval section of the QMEF). They will provide advice on the context of current developments in the discipline, curriculum content and confirm that relevant subject benchmark statements have been mapped appropriately.

4.2 Nomination and appointment

When it has been identified that an External Academic Adviser will be required (once the programme design team lead has liaised with the Field Leader (or academic colleague responsible for managing the External Examiners appointed to a field of study), the programme design team lead must complete a nomination form provided by the Quality Administrator within the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team. The formal process for the appointment of an Academic External Adviser will then be initiated (which follows the same process and criteria for the appointment of an External Examiner – see section 3.3.1 except criterion 3 a, d and e).

4.3 Reporting

External academic advisors should attend Programme Design Team Meetings (potentially through video conference). However if they are unable to attend they are required to complete an External academic adviser report provided by the Quality Account Manager which the Programme Team will reflect upon and provide commentary within the Design and Consultation document.  Following this payment will be made by the External Examining Team.

5. Periodic Curriculum Review External Panel Member(s)

5.1 Key roles and responsibilities

Periodic Curriculum Review (PCR) is a peer-based process which focuses on the critical reflection of all taught provision within a cognate subject area. The purpose of Periodic Curriculum Review is to critically evaluate the academic health of all taught provision within the agreed scope of the review.

The Review Panel’s role is to scrutinise the Critical Evaluation Document and supporting evidence and to comment on the proposed forward agenda. External Panel Members have an important role to play, not only in providing subject expertise, but in ensuring the academic soundness and objectivity of the review process, particularly their comments and conclusions on:

  • The academic standards and quality of learning opportunities.
  • How far the provision addresses the requirements of national external reference points and codes of practice such as the UK Quality Code for Higher Education and PSRBs.
  • The distinctive nature and market of the provision.
  • Potential areas of strength and/or good practice related to the discipline.
  • Areas for further attention and/or development.

Please see Periodic Curriculum Review section of the QMEF for further information.

5.2 Nomination and appointment

When it has been identified that a PCR External Panel Member(s) will be required the Periodic Curriculum Review Panel Lead must complete a nomination form provided by the Review Officer from within the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team. The formal process for the appointment of a PCR External Panel Member will then be initiated and be considered against the following appointment criteria:

Criterion 1: Externality and impartiality

a) A PCR external panel member should not be a current external examiner or have been an external examiner at UWE during the previous five years;
b) They should not be employed by an institution for which members of the programme team are external examiners;
c) They should not have been employed by UWE during the previous five years;
d) They should not have been taught or supervised by members of the relevant faculty executive. They should not have been taught or supervised by members of the programme team;
e) They should not be teaching or supervising research on a programme that members of the programme team may be currently taking or have completed;
f) They should not be employed by an affiliated institution of UWE;
g) They should not currently be applying for employment or study at UWE.

Criterion 2: Academic and/or professional qualifications and expertise

Essential criteria:

a) (i) Experience of curriculum design and approval quality assurance processes (preferably equivalent to a Head of Department or Associate Dean within their own institution)
    (ii) a broad overview of the subject area being considered;
b) Academic and/or professional qualifications to at least the level of the provision which they will review, and/or extensive practitioner experience (where appropriate);
c) Experience of programme leadership;
d) Experience of current teaching and learning, with research based experience preferable;
e) Relevant experience that reflects key aspects of (i) UWE curriculum, (ii) the programmes being considered (e.g. work-based learning, distance learning, technology enhanced learning).

Desirable:

f) Experience of external examining;
g) Experience of managing collaborative academic partnerships;
h) Other expertise that will set the programme(s) at the forefront of competitor programmes.

Faculty colleagues should contact potential PCR external panel members prior to submitting the nomination form to ascertain whether they would be willing to undertake the role, although they should not confirm any invitation at this point. Following the submission of the nomination form, any reciprocal arrangements (criterion 1) will be identified by the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team, and they will formally approach the nominee to seek confirmation of their right to work and request a copy of the nominee’s CV.

The Chair of Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC) of the Faculty is responsible for approving the nomination taking into consideration the above criteria, and the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team will confirm that the criteria have been met. See Quality Process sheet QPS58 and PCR External Panel Member Nomination Form.

All PCR External Academic Reviewers will be subject to Right to Work checks in line with Human Resources policy.

5.3 Reporting

PCR External Panel Members must attend the Periodic Curriculum Review event and contribute to the decisions of the Panel. Following the event payment will be made.

6. Curriculum approval panel external reviewer(s)

6.1 Key roles and responsibilities

A CAP External Reviewer will be appointed as part of the membership of the Curriculum Approvals Panel (CAP). The reviewer will be required to review the programme and module documentation to ensure that the learning outcomes are appropriate and meet external reference points such as the Framework for HE Qualifications. If a CAP External Reviewer is not able to attend, they will be asked to provide a written report on the business of the meeting.

CAP External Reviewers will either be appointed as (i) an external member of a faculty Curriculum Approval Panel (CAP) or (ii) an external member on a Special Curriculum Approval Panel.

i) A tenured Curriculum Approval Panel External Reviewer will normally serve a term of office no longer than four years, with the possibility of a one-year extension if necessary.
ii) A one off Special Curriculum Approval Panel External Reviewer will be appointed for that event only.

6.2 Nomination and appointment

When it has been identified that a CAP External Reviewer or Special CAP External Reviewer will be required the Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) or equivalent must complete a nomination form provided by the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team. The formal process for the appointment of a CAP External Reviewer will then be initiated and be considered against the following appointment criteria:

Criterion 1: Externality and impartiality

a) A CAP External Reviewer or Special CAP External Reviewer should not be a current external examiner or have been an external examiner at UWE during the previous five years;
b) They should not have been employed by UWE during the previous five years;
c) They should not have been taught or supervised by members of the relevant faculty
d) They should not be employed by an affiliated institution of UWE;
e) They should not currently be applying for employment or study at UWE.

Criterion 2: Academic and/or professional qualifications and expertise

Essential criteria:
a) (i) Experience of curriculum design and approval quality assurance processes (preferably equivalent to a Head of Department or Associate Dean within their own institution)
b) Academic and/or professional qualifications to at least Masters level, and/or extensive practitioner experience (where appropriate).
c) Experience of programme leadership;
d) Experience of current teaching and learning, with research based experience preferable;
e) Relevant experience that reflects key aspects of (i) UWE curriculum, (ii) the programmes being considered (e.g. work-based learning, distance learning, technology enhanced learning)

Desirable:

f) Experience of external examining;
g) Experience of managing collaborative academic partnerships;
h) Other expertise that will set the programme(s) at the forefront of competitor programmes.

Faculty colleagues should contact potential CAP External Reviewers prior to submitting the nomination form to ascertain whether they would be willing to undertake the role, although they should not confirm any invitation at this point. Following the submission of the nomination form any reciprocal arrangements (criterion 1) will be identified by the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team, and the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team will formally approach the nominee to seek confirmation of their right to work and request a copy of the nominee’s CV.

The Chair of Academic Standards and Quality Committee of the Faculty is responsible for approving the nomination taking into consideration the above criteria, and Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team will confirm that the criteria have been met. See Quality Process Sheet QPS58 and PCR External Panel Member Nomination Form.

All CAP External Reviewers will be subject to Right to Work checks in line with Human Resources policy.

6.3  Annual reporting

CAP External Reviewers will be asked to complete an annual report. This report will focus on the conduct and outcomes of CAPs. See Quality Process Sheet QPS59.

The annual report will feed into an annual review of curriculum design, approval and review processes (see the Programmes section of the QMEF).

The CAP External Reviewer’s annual fee is paid upon receipt of the completed annual report. The Special CAP External Reviewer’s fee is paid upon receipt of their completed report/attendance at the event.

7. Change log

Version  Section Change 
1.1 June 2015 2.3 Cross references to regulations amended.
  3.1 Provision for Programme External Examiners added
  3.3.1 Highlighting (formatting) of the key factors to be considered against the criteria for the appointment of external examiners.
  3.6 Additional clarification on process for the change of responsibilities.
  3.8.1 Inclusion of collaborative provision within the prompts for consultation with external examiners.
  3.11.1 Examples added to provide context.
  3.11.2 Reference to the specific process for the appointment of External Examiners within the Dual Award Framework.
 

3.13,4.1

Minor amendments to responsibilities within the Learning Teaching and Enhancement Team.
  4.2 Include expectation that where external academic advisors are unable to attend meetings they will receive feedback on their written comments.
  7 Change log added

8. Section templates and quality process sheets

 

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