The project on degree standards, running from 2016 to 2021, is being managed by HEFCE on behalf of the devolved administrations. HEFCE have contracted the Higher Education Academy (HEA) to work across all four nations to facilitate a sector-owned development process focusing on the professional development for external examiners.
The project has two interrelated parts:
- Working with a range of higher education providers to design and pilot generic professional development for external examiners
- Exploring different forms of calibration exercises with subject associations and Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs).
Through piloting and evaluation, the project will also explore different approaches to the professional development of external examiners, including online provision. It is anticipated that a ‘develop the developer’ programme would be rolled out in 2017-2018.
The project work will entail collaborative, consultative and dissemination activities involving key stakeholders, sector groups and networks in higher education, as well as regular updates on the project through the HEA website, social media and the External Examining JISCmail list.
The project is being overseen by a Standing Committee (convened by HEFCE) with representation from the four nations and from sector bodies. The HEA has appointed a Project Board to advise the project on implementation, which also has representation from all four nations and sector stakeholders.
The HEA is working with consultants to develop, pilot and deliver the professional development activities in association with higher education providers, professional bodies and subject associations.
Piloting higher education providers and bodies
A generic external examiner course is being developed and piloted in the first instance with the University of Liverpool, Oxford Brookes University, the Royal Northern College of Music, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Queen's University Belfast. Higher Education Providers in Scotland are also being approached to assist with the pilot.
A range of other higher education providers have already expressed an interest in early engagement with the project, with the HEA establishing ‘early adopters’ or higher education providers who potentially may engage with the professional development course for external examiners once it has been piloted and evaluated. We are currently considering extending the number of piloting institutions to include these providers.
Methods for calibrating standards will be developed and piloted with a range of PSRBs and subject associations, initially with the Royal Geographical Society, the English Association, the Health and Care Professions Council and the Veterinary Schools Council. We are currently in discussion with other subject associations and PSRBs about being involved in the pilot work.
Want to be involved in the project?
We would welcome further expressions of interest in joining the piloting or the early adopters group.
For higher education providers in the piloting group, the HEA will provide:
- Professional development materials
- Delivery and evaluation (or co-delivery) of a pilot generic course for external examiners
- Presentation to relevant staff about the rationale and nature of the project Access to support from dedicated HEA project team member(s)
Higher education providers involved in the pilot will need to provide:
- 20 external examiner 'trainees' in the pilot year 2016-17 - ideally including both aspiring and experienced examiners
- Provision of partner trainers or developers (if appropriate)
- Opportunity to deliver a one-day generic course for external examiners Participation in evaluation activity in the pilot year
- Promotion of the project within the institution and across the sector (on request)
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