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Summary of Issues from 2008 External Examiner Reports. External Examiners’ Seminar 2009 Alan Dordoy, Liz Morrow, LT Support Ian Shell NBS. Outline. Action after last year’s seminar 2008 Reports: Summary Report on Standards Issues from 2008 reports Questions/Discussion.

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Summary of issues from 2008 external examiner reports

Summary of Issues from 2008 External Examiner Reports

External Examiners’ Seminar 2009

Alan Dordoy, Liz Morrow, LT Support

Ian Shell NBS


  • Action after last year’s seminar

  • 2008 Reports:

    • Summary Report on Standards

    • Issues from 2008 reports

  • Questions/Discussion

2008 reports
2008 Reports

  • Reports mostly very positive, increasingly so. Many comments on good processes, committed staff, improving resources

  • Schools should have fed back to you with action being taken in response to your reports; 2008 reports say this happens and we are improving – but a few feel previous recommendations have not been acted on. Can all be?

  • Overview report will go to DVC, University LT Committee, Academic Board – and to yourselves

Summary report on standards
Summary Report on Standards

  • Part A of the report template asks for confirmation that standards are being maintained. Any ‘no’ here must be reported to University LT Committee

  • Four ‘no’ responses this year on the comparability of performance question – mainly in relation to international student achievement (see below). One ‘no’ on processes.

  • Are Part A questions worded clearly enough? (they came from HEFCE/TQI; we can change them now)

Issues from 2008 reports
Issues from 2008 Reports

  • External Examiner arrangements

  • Assessment and marking

  • Student performance

  • Exam Boards and Regulations

  • Confidentiality issues

Ext examiner arrangements
Ext Examiner Arrangements

  • Central information – external examiner seminar and web page are useful

  • School/programme/module information supplied to externals – clear improvements over 2007 but still some gaps

  • External examiner workloads considered too high in some cases. How can we resolve this?

Assessment and marking
Assessment and Marking

  • Assessment practices generally reported as sound and fair; good information provided to students on tasks and criteria, good and innovative range of assessment types used, good use of Blackboard etc

  • More quality control of project topics wanted in some areas – sign-off of proposal/outline etc to avoid ‘misconceived’ dissertations

  • Quality of feedback to students reported to have improved – writing of comments directly on scripts welcomed (except for legibility!)

Assessment and marking1
Assessment and Marking

  • Confusion over rounding of ‘9’s remains in some areas – note that the guidelines specify this happens only for the module, not by component. The aim is to get academic judgement on the module class before the exam board

  • Change of postgraduate pass mark from 40 to 50 welcomed in some areas as removing confusion. However, has caused confusion elsewhere and may have led to clustering of PG marks in a narrow band (50-70). Views?

Student performance
Student Performance

  • Rigor in maintaining a consistent standard across collaborative programmes noted, despite some variability between partner organisations

  • Some expressed concern at poorer performance of some international students. Increased monitoring of admissions? Attendance monitoring? Views?

Exam boards regulations
Exam Boards/Regulations

  • Boards well organised – documentation much improved this year – very few SITS issues raised

  • A few attended pilots of paperless boards with digital presentation of marks. Noted that this made it difficult to track progression or to consider complex cases

  • Increased numbers of technical extenuating circumstances affecting exams this year (due to large amount of building work?)

Exam boards regulations1
Exam Boards/Regulations

  • Mixed views remain on non-discretionary compensation at final level; some see this as fair, others as meaning students have not met all final level outcomes (NB this was raised last year in relation to what is recorded on student transcripts – requires further discussion). Views?

  • Some concern over classification rules – inflexibility of ‘majority of credit’ rule for borderline cases, especially where programme structures use large (eg 60 credit) modules

Exam boards regulations2
Exam Boards/Regulations

  • Academic misconduct – conflicting views on whether current rules tough enough, also whether Schools are evolving diverse strategies (NB we are now collecting a consistent data set and monitoring numbers of cases and outcomes across the university)


  • Note that exam board confidentiality is now written into the Examiners’ Handbook (issue had arisen in relation to PSRB obligations)

  • Concerns remain over rules on students maintaining placement/professional confidentiality in assessments

  • Some examiners still including student names in their reports (which must, under HEFCE TQI requirements, be shared with student reps)

Questions discussion

  • Less issues thrown up in the reports this year, but your views on what we should follow up are welcome