External examiners given OK

November 4, 1994

The external examiner system should continue, according to a survey by the Open University's Validation Services of the 50 institutions it accredits.

The survey, Using External Examiners, found that the system is valued for its emphasis on justice, standards and comparability.

The authors, Harold Silver, visiting research professor at the Open University attached to its Quality Support Centre, and Ruth Williams, centre quality support officer, visited 18 of the accredited institutions and seven organisations with credit-rated courses, and met a range of examiners.

Professor Silver said: "At no point in this project was any reservation expressed about the importance, now and in the future, of the system. There was widespread approval of the contribution made by external examiners, and an adamant concern that the system should continue."

There have been doubts about the ability to cope with mass higher education, modular programmes, credit transfer and the reluctance of staff to take on external examining because of poor pay.

All the institutions accredited by the Open University employ external examiners on the same basis as other universities and colleges of higher education.

The investigation included the recruitment and remuneration of external examiners and responses to their written reports and perspectives on the future.

Institutions said that the system reassured students and the institutions themselves that the awards given are "acceptable" and that standards are comparable.

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