External examiners are required to submit at least one report annually to the Head of Academic Affairs, Level 6, Administration Building, Queen’s University Belfast, BT7 1NN. In order to allow programme teams to consider the report as part of the Annual Programme Review process, reports should be submitted by 1 August (UG programmes) or 31 December (PGT programmes).
An additional report should be submitted after semester one if any issues requiring immediate action (e.g. concerns about the content of a module or its role in the degree programme) have been identified. This is to facilitate module review and to allow sufficient time for changes to be implemented for the following academic year.
The University has standard report forms for external examiners to use, one for External Examiner Subject Report Form and one for External Examiner Programme Report Form. External examiners holding both subject and programme appointments should complete both reports. The report forms seek to elicit answers to a particular range of questions for programme enhancement and quality assurance purposes. It is essential that all relevant sections of the report form are completed – both the ‘tick box’ questions and the sections which require written comments. Any additional sheets of paper used should be clearly referenced and signed.
External Examiners are asked to complete reports in as full and detailed a manner as possible. The University may request additional information if the report is deemed to contain insufficient detail.
The Secretaries to Boards of Examiners are responsible for ensuring that external examiners are provided with the relevant form for completion. Forms may be obtained directly from the links above.
External examiners may submit a confidential report in addition to the main report. This will not be copied to the Head of School without prior permission from the external examiner. The external examiner should make the confidential comments on a separate sheet and mark it clearly with the heading ‘confidential report’. Confidential reports should be addressed to the Vice-Chancellor.
At the end of their period of appointment, external examiners are asked to submit a final report, commenting on developments which have taken place within the subject area examined, the implementation of any previous recommendations, and/or any ongoing concerns. This report is in addition to the annual report and, as there is no pro-forma for this report, it may be completed in any form the external examiner deems appropriate. Final reports will be made available to incoming external examiners.
Responses to the Report
Academic Affairs will acknowledge receipt of the examiner’s report and copy the report (excluding any confidential report attached) to the relevant Head of School.
It is the responsibility of the Head of School to respond to each external examiner’s report which has been received. The response should normally be sent by 1 November (UG) or 1 February (PGT), and should address all subject specific issues raised. For quality assurance purposes a copy of the School reply should be sent to Academic Affairs, where the replies will be monitored to ensure that the points raised by the external examiner are being addressed. In reports where the external examiner does not recommend any changes to the current practice and procedures, the Head of School should still reply to the examiner to acknowledge that they have received the report.
Academic Affairs will monitor external examiner reports to determine if any concerns have been raised with regard to the maintenance of standards. If such a concern is raised, Academic Affairs will bring this to the attention of the relevant Faculty Dean of Education, who will investigate accordingly and respond to the external examiner.
Academic Affairs will monitor external examiner reports to determine if any general issues have been raised, which need to be addressed centrally within the University – for example, issues relating to the University regulations. An annual report, compiled for consideration and decision by the Courses and Regulations Group, will follow the normal committee cycle within the University for changes to be introduced for the following academic year, unless a particularly urgent matter has arisen.
Where an issue has been referred to the Courses and Regulations Group for consideration, Academic Affairs will inform the examiner of the outcome. It should be noted that, after due consideration, the Courses and Regulations Group may decide that no action will be taken on an issue. A ‘no action’ decision will also be communicated to the external examiner.
Availability of External Examiners’ Reports to Students
In line with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education - Chapter B7: External Examining, Schools must make the name, position and institutions of their external examiners available in module and programme information, and make external examiners’ annual reports available in full to students. Where School Student SharePoint sites exist, they should be utilised as the means whereby external examiners’ reports, alongside the associated responses from the School and, where applicable, the University, are made available in full to students. Where School Student SharePoint sites do not exist, external examiner reports may be distributed at SSCCs, or copies may be made available in the School Office.
External examiners have been asked not to identify individual students or staff in their reports. However, if this does happen, Schools should redact as appropriate.
It is important that student representatives are made aware, not only of the external examiner’s reports but also of the response to the reports from the School and, where appropriate, the University. Institutional themes are also considered at the Courses and Regulations Group and Schools will receive a copy of the collated themes and the Group’s response after the meeting each February.