External examining activity is a recognized indicator of subject expertise and peer esteem. It also evidences understanding of quality assurance, course, and assessment design. As such, it contributes to the enhancement of an academic CV and may impact on promotion and career prospects. Fair access to external examining opportunities is thus an equity issue for universities. In the context of race equality, where both staff and students of color in academia show consistently differential outcomes to their White counterparts, professional development can mitigate disadvantage, especially where it is focused on access to opportunity. Professional development for external examiners has been an underdeveloped area but the recent establishment in the UK of the Degree Standards Project has begun to address this. The authors propose that there is nevertheless a gap in provision to support academics who aspire to become external examiners but who have had no previous experience. This chapter describes an institutional initiative to promote access to initial external examining roles through professional development and reports on participant outcomes. Evaluation data suggest that an approach such as this can help with obtaining a first appointment and may help to mitigate some of the barriers of access to external examiner roles for staff of color. The authors argue that the sector urgently needs to diversify the ethnicity of the external examiner pool in order to provide an essential critical lens which could impact on the equity of degree outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students.
Kay, H. and Hinrichsen, J. (2021), "Promoting Access to External Examining Roles Through Professional Development", Sengupta, E., Blessinger, P., Ssemwanga, A. and Cozza, B. (Ed.) The Role of External Examining in Higher Education: Challenges and Best Practices (Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, Vol. 38), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 25-41. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2055-364120210000038003
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