Examiner 'spoke no Greek'

March 7, 1997

A NON-GREEK speaking external examiner was used by Strathclyde University to assess a course taught and appraised in Greek, a quality watchdog team discovered.

The examiner filed an "extensive and supportive" report on the postgraduate diploma in person-centred counselling run by Strathclyde's partner in Athens, the Person-Centred Approach Institute.

But she told a board of examiners that most of the assignments she had seen in a visit to the institute were in Greek, and had had to be translated for her to scrutinise.

An audit team from the Higher Education Quality Council found that a trained counsellor working for the institute was interpreting.

The auditors were even more surprised that the counsellor had been a student on the course being assessed for part of the time.

The arrangement highlighted "the difficulties associated with using a non-Greek speaking external examiner to assess a course taught and assessed in Greek," an HEQC report says.

Strathclyde University chiefs told the audit team they had confidence in the integrity of the institute and its staff, and "could see little danger in using one student on the course to translate the work of others for assessment purposes".

But the audit team does not share this view and has called for the university to ensure that its translation arrangements are more secure.

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