Academia would collapse if lecturing staff did not provide free services over and above those contracted and/or do additional work for derisory sums. External examining is among the latter. It usually involves a good deal of time spent travelling and a payment that, tax deducted, works out at less than £10 an hour.
Although external examining is a useful experience for a young academic building up a CV, it is a goodwill gesture by older, more experienced academics. The proposal that external examiners should be trained before being allowed to practice ("Externals set to bow to Hefce scrutiny", THES , July 19), will have one result - few external examiners with experience, and possibly no examiners at all.
Professor of business
Sheffield Hallam University