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Case study - The University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool is a large Russell Group institution. Staff members at the University of Liverpool with a remit for academic standards were involved with the (then) HEA team in planning for the first professional development for external examiner (PDC) pilot sessions. Since then institutional staff members have completed the development programme to deliver the course. Competing priorities and staffing constraints have hampered institutional delivery of the course however, and most recently courses were postponed as a result of Covid-19. Nevertheless, 65 participants have completed courses at University of Liverpool so far, around half with experience of external examining. Feedback from participants is positive and 89% of post course survey respondents said they would change their practice as an external examiner as a result of the course. Having a champion within the institutional hierarchy has kept the PDC on the institutional agenda. So far there has been a good level of interest in attending the course across the staff body, and the course dovetails with the existing professional development offer to academic staff members. The current context of educational developers working in an online environment due to the Covid-19 pandemic signals somewhat of a cultural shift in how CPD is delivered and there is uncertainty over the short and long term implications for the professional development offer. Reconfiguring the course to online active learning fits with the direction of travel for the institution’s educational development provision. Online provision opens up opportunities to engage a wide group of participants in the professional development. Cross-institutional collaboration on courses, including at the regional level, comes out as a theme to spread the availability of the course and has efficiencies in terms of making the most use of the delivery capability.