Guidelines for Reciprocal Arrangements for External Examining

Quality Assurance: Reciprocal arrangements for External Examining

1. Background / Summary

The University values the role of External Examiners, and the benefits for the institution and individuals concerned in terms of assurance of quality and standards and opportunity for enhancement and development.

To ensure independent and objective scrutiny and continued alignment with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, the University ensures that there are no reciprocal arrangements between subject areas within Swansea University and other organisations in terms of External Examining.

2. Purpose

These guidelines ensure that there is a clear framework to ensure that there are no reciprocal arrangements for External Examining for the purposes of Quality Assurance between colleagues in specific subject areas at Swansea University and equivalent subject areas at other organisations (primarily Higher Education institutions).

The University recognises that reciprocal arrangements can impact upon the independence and objectivity which is critical to effective maintenance of quality and standards, which may adversely impact the University’s reputation if not clearly defined and maintained.

3. Scope / Exemptions

These guidelines apply to reciprocal arrangements for any staff engaging in External Examining for the purposes of quality assurance:

• Swansea University staff acting as External Examiners for other institutions
• External Examiners from other institutions

All other forms of External expertise are currently exempted from these guidelines .

4. Definitions

Terms specific to this Policy.

External Examiner (Taught Programmes): The role of the External Examiner includes, amongst other duties, providing independent, objective and expert oversight of curriculum and assessment practices, and the standards of assessment (including review of examination papers and assessment questions, review assessment marking, curriculum changes). External Examiners are expected to submit a full report to the University, summarising the quality and standards of the provision.

Reciprocity: The practice of one provider engaging a subject matter expert from another provider and then providing a subject matter expert from an aligned subject area in return.

5. Policy Statement

The University supports the expectations of the Higher Education community and UK Quality Code for Higher Education in peer evaluation/observation/ review and this policy seeks to ensure the objectivity of External Examining in Higher Education by providing a framework to maintain standards and independence by preventing reciprocal arrangements between aligned subject areas between organisations.

The process is Quality Assured for both the University and the Higher Educational Institutions that have a relationship with Swansea. The engagement/activity must not affect the member of staff’s work at the home University, involve a conflict of interest, involve a financial risk or bring the University into disrepute.

6. Practices

1. Swansea University staff acting as External Examiners for other organisations

The University will record any Swansea University staff acting as External Examiners for other organisations. This activity will be recorded through the University’s Declaration of Outside Interests process/system (see link below) to maintain independence and objectivity. This data will be accurately maintained and reviewed by Academic Quality Services staff at the point of nomination of External Examiners from other organisations (see 2).

2. Appointment of External Examiners from other organisations

The University will appoint External Examiners from other organisations for each taught programme in line with the published appointment criteria in the University’s Code of Practice for External Examiners. Nominees are required to declare any reciprocal arrangements at the appointment stage, and this will be confirmed prior to approval by Academic Quality Services. Academic Quality Services will maintain a record of all External Examiners from other organisations, which will be referenced when Swansea University staff report roles as External Examiners (see 1.).

7. Related Policies/Procedures

University’s Code of Practice for External Examiners 
Declaration of Outside interests 

8. Compliance

Academic Quality Services will monitor all Swansea University staff appointments at other organisations and all External Examiners appointed to Swansea University for other organisations, to ensure there are no reciprocal arrangements, at the point of appointment.

These guidelines will be reviewed and updated by Academic Quality Services every three academic years on behalf of the Learning Teaching and Quality Committee, in line with the QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education and in consultation with Human Resources and UCU.

9. History

Nov 2019 Academic Quality Services Introduction of  these guidelines .

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