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External examiner guidance note

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1 External examiner guidance note
External examining at the University of Westminster Assessment Structure at the University – modules, courses and Boards. Role of external examiners on Subject Boards Attendance at Boards Subject Boards – what you should see Role of external examiners on Conferment Boards The external examiner’s Annual report Fees and expenses

2 1 External examining at the University of Westminster
•The University has about 350 external examiners. Most are from other HE institutions but a large number are practitioners. The main purposes of external examining are: to verify that standards are appropriate for the award or award elements which the external examiner has been appointed to examine to assist in the comparison of academic standards across higher education awards and award elements to ensure that assessment processes are fair and are fairly operated and are in line with the Regulations.

3 2 Formal structure of Assessment – framework and assessment calendar
Courses conform to a common modular framework. There are two semesters each academic year. Boards take place mainly in June/July but they are also held in the autumn for postgraduate students and undergraduate students granted deferred resits. Full details of the University's modular frameworks (postgraduate and undergraduate) are published in the Handbook of Academic Regulations External examiners are required to advise on all assessments for work at undergraduate Credit Levels 5 and 6 and postgraduate Credit Level 7. However, external examiners are appointed to Credit Levels 3 and 4 programmes for discrete programmes – e.g. Foundation Courses.

4 3 Process of nomination The nomination of external examiners to a Subject and/or Conferment Board is the responsibility of the Dean of School which hosts the Board. All such appointments require the approval of the member of the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group with responsibility for Academic Quality. Normally a team of external examiners is identified by subject, with responsibility for a group of modules, or a course scheme. Continuity between teams of external examiners is planned to avoid simultaneous reappointment of the whole team.

5 4 Induction With the appointment letter issued by the Academic Registrar’s Department a new external examiner is provided with a copy of the proforma for their annual report and a copy of the University’s Handbook of Academic Regulations. The Course Leader or main contact in the School which hosts the subject/course provides the up-to-date Course Handbook and arranges a visit to the School to meet the teaching team, and agree the arrangements for the external examiner’s involvement in the assessment process.

6 5 Particular Guidance A member of staff from the School which hosts the Board to which the external examiner has been appointed will provide full briefing on awards within the remit of the board. External examiners will receive definitive course documents and course specific regulations for each. External examiners may be invited to attend an Assessment Board as an observer prior to formal involvement in assessment at the University and/or a more informal meeting.

7 6 Formal structure of Assessment – two types of Board
There is a two stage arrangement for Assessment Boards: module results for all modules grouped in a subject area are considered at a Subject Board The accumulated module results of individual students are forwarded to a Conferment Board which makes awards and considers progression and exclusion issues. In many cases dates of Subject and Conferment Boards are separated by a week or more in order that results from a number of Subject Boards can be collated for submission to one Conferment Board. However, where all students on a postgraduate course take modules in just one subject area, the Subject and Conferment Board may be combined.

8 7 Subject Board External Examiners
External examiners are nominated for appointment to specific named Subject Boards and given responsibility for specified modules, or subjects. The role of Subject Board external examiners is to judge whether students, as a group, have been fairly assessed in relation to the objectives and syllabus of modules and have reached the required standard. These judgements are made in the context of knowledge of standards applied in comparable courses elsewhere and levels of student attainment in previous years. External examiners also attest that assessment regulations have been fairly applied ensuring parity of judgement for all students taking a module and comment on the assessment process and procedures.

9 8 Role of External Examiners on Subject Boards
The subject specialist external examiner’s primary role is that of an arbiter of the assessment process and of standards set by internal examiners. The external examiner should not offer assessment judgements in individual cases or arbitrate in cases of difference of judgement between internal assessors. The role of the external examiner at Subject Boards is to provide an overview of the consistency and appropriateness of standards of assessment set by the internal markers. The external examiner has the right to receive and moderate the full range of marks awarded by internal examiners. Where an external examiner feels that, on the basis of the sample they have seen, work has been over or under-marked, they should advise that all the marks for that paper be adjusted by a given margin. So the whole group will be altered: plus or minus X%. Where an external examiner perceives that marking is inconsistent they should advise that the work of all students in the group be marked and moderated by a third internal marker. Although judgements are normally made on the basis of samples of work, subject specialist external examiners have the right to receive any piece of assessed module work within their remit.

10 9 Attendance at Boards Subject Board external examiners are required to: visit the University at least twice and no more than three times a year, either to attend Subject Board meetings and/or to view coursework assignments and meet staff and students; attend Subject Board meetings and formally agree marks and decisions on reassessment opportunities in the case of failed modules. Pass lists cannot be released unless marks have been formally ratified and signed by the external examiners; in the event of their unavoidably being prevented from attending any Board meeting, submit a written statement confirming agreement with, or explaining dissent from, assessment decisions; agree the formal record of the Subject Board meetings. Subject Board external examiners will be given the opportunity to meet together at the University at least once a year to discuss assessment practices and standards in respect of the Subject Board to which they have been appointed as a group.

11 Attendance at Boards 2 External examiners have the right to attend any Subject Board of which they are a member. External examiners will be advised of scheduled Assessment Board dates well in advance, and in particular of days when attendance at the University will be required. Wherever possible provisional dates will be cross-checked before being finalised to avoid a clash of assessment boards or other engagements. Once notified to external examiners board dates will only be changed in exceptional circumstances.

12 10 Subject Boards – what external examiners should see
Prior to assessment external examiners will be asked to agree: – the form and content of all examination papers, and in-course assignments which contribute 30% or more to the module. – the means by which coursework assessments shall be approved, in order to ensure that all students will be assessed fairly in relation to the module syllabus and regulations and in such a way that external examiners will be able to judge whether they have fulfilled the learning outcomes of the module and reached the required standard; • After the assessment, in order to ensure that marking is appropriate for the credit level of the assessment, external examiners will receive/view for comment a representative sample of internally marked work: – this sample would normally be between 10% and 25% of the total and would include work of students with the highest marks in the module, failure and borderline failure marks and samples of work of students across the full range of marks. • Papers sent should be accompanied by: – the module syllabus and the full schedule of assessment – the tabulation of all marks for all students in each module – a sample of oral examinations conducted by internal examiners.

13 11 Conferment Board external examiners
The role of Conferment Board external examiners is to ensure the fair and equitable application of the University’s regulations on credit accumulation, and the course specific regulations for each award, in decisions on the award of qualifications to students. This includes decisions on the classification of awards and decisions on exclusions. External examiners take part in all work of Conferment Boards including the award of intermediate awards, and discrete Foundation Certificates.

14 12 Conferment Boards – the role
• This role requires Conferment Board external examiners to: – attend Conferment Boards for final awards and exclusions except for intermediate awards, where, with prior agreement, they may be involved by correspondence; – agree awards, and classifications of these awards, and participate in any decision to exclude a student from a programme of study on academic grounds; – contribute to the adjudication of difficult cases and judgements about whether candidates have fully complied with the course assessment requirements and qualifications; – agree the formal record of the Conferment Board meetings; • In the event of their unavoidably being prevented from attending any Assessment Board meeting, submit a written statement confirming agreement with, or explaining dissent from, assessment decisions; • External examiners may also be consulted on any significant proposed changes to course specific assessment regulations.

15 13 Annual meetings for external examiners
The School which hosts the subject/course must ensure that all the external examiners as a team are provided with the opportunity to meet together as a group at least once a year. Schools are also encouraged to arrange an external examiners’ forum for all externals to meet with key members of the teaching team and administrators, to discuss common issues.

16 14 The external examiner’s annual report
•All external examiners are required to submit an Annual Report at the end of each session – normally June for undergraduate provision and October for postgraduate provision •We prefer the report to be sent via the intranet using our webpage •Conferment external examiners are required to submit an annual report commenting on: –the overall performance of candidates on each course –the distribution of results across classifications –the implications of results for the course design –Conferment Board procedures –issues arising from assessments of course schemes as a whole –conduct of assessment boards.

17 Annual report 2 The University encourages examiners to provide candid comments and the annual report should be presented as fully and objectively as possible. The annual report should be submitted within six weeks of the meeting of the “main board”. The written text should address the areas indicated in the Report Guidance Note –www.wmin.ac.uk/ee The short questionnaire is a numerical scoring system. It can be completed in hard copy or on-line at Annual Report 3 – the short questionnaire This questionnaire is used as a thumbnail guide to all aspects of the provision. As a guide to the scale of values external examiners should be aware that where a score of “1” [poor] is indicated, this matter will normally be drawn to the immediate attention of the University and where a score of “5” [excellent] is indicated, this matter will be noted as an example of best practice. For these reasons external examiners are asked to use “1” or “5” only where it is strictly appropriate.

18 Annual Report 3 – the short questionnaire

19 Annual Report 4 – submission via the web
If you type your report as a word-processed document you can send it to the University via our website. To enter the website you will need your external examiner i.d. [ a number printed on correspondence from the Academic Registrar’s Department]. If you lose your i.d. send an to and we will send you a reminder. At the bottom of the page attach the file containing your report by using the Browse button and then choose the file – then press submit. That is all you need to do.

20 19 The function of the Annual Report in quality assurance
All reports are acknowledged on receipt and subsequently a written response is made from the Dean of School, or nominee, addressing the substantive issues in each report and outlining actions to be taken as a result of the examiner's comments. Reports form part of the documentary input to three exercises: – the annual monitoring of all courses within each Campus to assess whether each is meeting its stated objectives and maintaining the standard of the award to which it leads – the annual review at the University of Westminster of all reports from the previous academic session which seeks to identify common cross-institutional issues arising in assessment - the Campus Review Panel undertaken when each course or wider programme is considered for re-approval (this normally occurs every six years).

21 20 Response to report The Dean of School with academic responsibility for an Assessment Board or course, is responsible for ensuring that a written reply is made to each report and that appropriate action is taken in response to the points raised by the external examiner. The task of writing responses may be delegated, eg to the Head of Department or the Course Leader. Responses are normally sent to external examiners no later than the end of the term following the Board meeting to which they relate. The Dean of School identifies any issues (e.g. resources) which are outside his/her control and refers the report to the appropriate office Reports are discussed during the relevant Campus Academic Standards Group auditing exercise and they are included by the Course Team in Course Review documents at periodic Review (every six years), with a commentary from the Course Team. External examiner reports are also used by external bodies, e.g., professional bodies and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), in their review exercises.

22 21 Academic Standards Officer’s annual report to Academic Council
The Academic Standards Officer in the University Academic Registrar’s Department conducts an independent audit of all external examiner reports along with the responses to them. A critical read is undertaken to identify any general points, particularly on assessment procedures, issues of concern and to draw out aspects of good practice worth disseminating. The conclusions may lead to recommendations to Academic Council for changes to policy or guidelines on external examining.

23 22 External examiner’s fees and expenses
• The annual fee for involvement and attendance at Subject Boards is £360. This may be supplemented if the external examiner is required to make additional visits to the University beyond the standard three visits per annum for attendance at a Conferment Board or a Resit Board. The supplementary fee is £75 per annum. • Expenses are paid upon receipt of a claim form along with supporting receipts. • The fee is paid upon receipt of the appropriate fee claim form in one single annual sum, normally in the period after the main summer Board. The fee is payable only upon receipt of the annual report and assumes at least one visit per year to the University. • Budgetary requirements specify that the external examiner’s annual fee must be claimed within twelve months of the end of the session for which the fee is due. • The University prefers to pay fees directly into the external examiner’s bank account and external examiners are requested to provide the relevant details on the claim form. However, this facility is not available for external examiners who live overseas where payment will be made by cheque. • There are separate forms for fees for external examiners involved in the assessment of higher degrees – FIN015 – and for undergraduate modules, and for expenses. Forms should be available at all Assessment Boards attended and may also be obtained from the Academic Registrar’s Department Financial Information For External Examiners Fees The annual fee for involvement and attendance at Subject Boards is £360. This may be supplemented if the external examiner is required to make additional visits to the University beyond the standard three visits per annum for attendance at a Conferment Board or a Resit Board. The supplementary fee is £75 per annum. Tax and National Insurance Deductions The Inland Revenue (PAYE and National Insurance Contributions Offices) requires the University to deduct tax under PAYE and also National Insurance from fees paid to external examiners who are appointed to undergraduate modules, whilst those appointed to higher degree modules are paid a gross fee. External Examiners who are assessed under schedule D should ask their own tax office to give authority to the University of Westminster's tax office for fees to be paid without the deduction of PAYE. External Examiners who pay the maximum National Insurance in their main employment should obtain Form CA2700 from the Inland Revenue – NI Contributions Office for the deferment from National Insurance contributions. Your National Insurance number should always be quoted when corresponding with the following departments. The address of the University's Tax Office is: Inland Revenue Bradford Beckside Centenary Court 1 St Blaise Way BRADFORD West Yorkshire BD1 4YD Please quote reference 073/P1111A Telephone: The address of the Inland Revenue – NI Contributions Office is: Services Linisfarne House Longbenton NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE NE98 1ZZ Expenses The University will contribute to expenses incurred by external examiners when involved in the assessment of its students as follows: Travel The standard reimbursement level for travel costs is based on the appropriate second class National Rail train fare. However, it may be more convenient and economical for an examiner to travel by car from less accessible locations or by plane when travelling especially long distances. For travel by car, the current mileage allowance will be paid by the Academic Registrar’s Dept (please contact this Dept for details). For travel by plane, please contact the Academic Registrar’s Dept to secure approval for economy rate air tickets. Meals Reasonable allowances towards the cost of meals will be paid. Receipts The University of Westminster has been advised by its auditors that expenses can only be reimbursed on the submission of all relevant receipts. Accommodation When the assessment covers more than one day, or an examiner has to travel considerable distances, overnight accommodation may be necessary. The Academic Registrar’s Dept holds accounts with two central London Hotels, and also two hotels at Harrow. If accommodation is required, please advise the University as early as possible. You should contact the School Office, or the Academic Registrar’s Dept and a reservation will be made for you. March 2004

24 23 Financial Information For External Examiners
Tax and National Insurance Deductions The Inland Revenue (PAYE and National Insurance Contributions Offices) requires the University to deduct tax under PAYE and also National Insurance from fees paid to external examiners who are appointed to undergraduate modules, whilst those appointed to higher degree modules are paid a gross fee. External Examiners who are assessed under Schedule D should ask their own tax office to give authority to the University of Westminster's tax office for fees to be paid without the deduction of PAYE. External examiners who pay the maximum National Insurance in their main employment should obtain Form CA2700 from the Inland Revenue – NI Contributions Office for the deferment from National Insurance contributions. Your National Insurance number should always be quoted when corresponding with the following departments.

25 24 Financial Information For External Examiners 2
The address of the University's Tax Office is: Inland Revenue Bradford Beckside Centenary Court 1 St Blaise Way BRADFORD West Yorkshire BD1 4YD Please quote reference 073/P1111A Telephone: The address of the Inland Revenue – NI Contributions Office is: Services Linisfarne House Longbenton NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE NE98 1ZZ

26 Expenses The University will contribute to expenses incurred by external examiners when involved in the assessment of its students as follows: Travel The standard reimbursement level for travel costs is based on the appropriate second class National Rail train fare. However, it may be more convenient and economical for an examiner to travel by car from less accessible locations or by plane when travelling especially long distances. For travel by car, the current mileage allowance will be paid by the Academic Registrar’s Dept (please contact this Dept for details). For travel by plane, please contact the Academic Registrar’s Dept to secure approval for economy rate air tickets. Meals Reasonable allowances towards the cost of meals will be paid.

27 Expenses cont. Receipts
The University of Westminster has been advised by its auditors that expenses can only be reimbursed on the submission of all relevant receipts. Accommodation When the assessment covers more than one day, or an examiner has to travel considerable distances, overnight accommodation may be necessary. The Academic Registrar’s Dept holds accounts with two central London Hotels, and also two hotels at Harrow. If accommodation is required, please advise the University as early as possible. You should contact the School Office, or the Academic Registrar’s Dept and a reservation will be made for you. May 2007


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