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Traditionally the role of the external examiners in UK universities or more formally Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is that of quality assurance (QA). Typically, an…
Traditionally the role of the external examiners in UK universities or more formally Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is that of quality assurance (QA). Typically, an experienced academic who is not affiliated with the HEI (i.e., someone from another university) is invited to act as an external examiner for a particular course or a module. The external examiner’s primary role is to provide impartial and independent advice to ensure academic standards are upheld for a degree program; and that the degree is comparable with similar programs across the country and that the achievements of students are also comparable with students on courses at other universities. This primary role makes external examiners highly valued people in UK universities, and as a result, their views are nearly always taken seriously. Over and above this recognized primary role of QA, external examiners can also be engaged by the host university in other ways. These additional roles or tasks of the external examiner can help enhance teaching and learning in higher education. This chapter will reflect on the range of roles, including the ones that go beyond QA.
Using an external examiner in an institution is not a new phenomenon; the evidence of having an outsider to scrutinize the quality control process has been prevalent since…
Using an external examiner in an institution is not a new phenomenon; the evidence of having an outsider to scrutinize the quality control process has been prevalent since the 1800s. However, the concept has undergone considerable changes and has been subjected to mounting criticism and validity of the process. There are several challenges that are faced by institutions in recruiting and defining the role of external examiners and the assumption that they are assessment literate. Universities are engaged in safeguarding the procedure, and at the same time, enhancing the quality standards. Researchers have been collaborating to create best practices and working on key developments that would ensure that degree standards are maintained in higher education. There is no “one size fits all” guidelines, but hiring an external examiner with the view to safeguarding academic quality is the prevalent norm across the globe. The book on the role of external examiners put forth such challenges and best practices by academia in various parts of the world. Authors have written about how to mitigate disadvantages and how to create opportunities without compromising the quality assurance process. International standards have been discussed with the view to make external examining a rigorous process that is fair, reliable and consistent.