This Theme provides practical guidance on the use of external, impartial and independent expertise to ensure that the standards and quality of a provider's courses are consistent with the relevant national qualification frameworks, Subject Benchmark Statements, Characteristics Statements and any relevant professional or other requirements.
Expectations and Practices for External Expertise
Expectations for standards
The academic standards of courses meet the requirements of the relevant national qualifications framework.
The value of qualifications awarded to students at the point of qualification and over time is in line with sector-recognised standards.
Expectation for quality
Courses are well-designed, provide a high-quality academic experience for all students and enable a student’s achievement to be reliably assessed.
Core practices for standards
The provider ensures that the threshold standards for its qualifications are consistent with the relevant national qualifications frameworks.
The provider ensures that students who are awarded qualifications have the opportunity to achieve standards beyond the threshold level that are reasonably comparable with those achieved in other UK providers.
Where a provider works in partnership with other organisations, it has in place effective arrangements to ensure that the standards of its awards are credible and secure irrespective of where or how courses are delivered or who delivers them.
The provider uses external expertise, assessment and classification processes that are reliable, fair and transparent.
Common practice for standards
The provider reviews its core practices for standards regularly and uses the outcomes to drive improvement and enhancement.
Core practices for quality
The provider designs and/or delivers high-quality courses.
Where a provider works in partnership with other organisations, it has in place effective arrangements to ensure that the academic experience is high-quality irrespective of where or how courses are delivered and who delivers them.
Common practice for quality
The provider’s approach to managing quality takes account of external expertise.
- Providers use one or more external experts as advisers to provide impartial and independent scrutiny on the approval and review of all provision that leads to the award of credit or a qualification.
- Degree-awarding bodies engage independent external examiners to comment impartially and informatively on academic standards, student achievement and assessment processes for all provision that leads to the award of credit or a qualification.
- Degree-awarding bodies have processes for the nomination, approval and engagement of external examiners and other independent external experts.
- Providers ensure that the roles of those providing external expertise are clear to students, staff and other stakeholders.
- Providers ensure that external experts are given sufficient and timely evidence and training to enable them to carry out their responsibilities.
- Providers have effective mechanisms in place to provide a response to input from external examiners and external advisers.
- Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (PDF, 0.62MB), 2015
- Understanding degree algorithms (PDF, 0.86MB), UUK & GuildHE
- Higher Education Academy (Advance HE) A handbook for external examining (PDF, 1.62MB)
- Degree Standards: Professional Development and Calibration for the External Examining System in the UK
- The Frameworks for HE Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF, 0246MB) QAA
- QAA Characteristics Statements
- Characteristics Statement: Qualifications involving more than one degree-awarding Body
- Higher Education in Apprenticeships Characteristic Statement
- Focus on Projects, QAA Scotland
- ELIR Thematic Reports, QAA Scotland
- SFC guidance to HEIs on quality