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Protecting the value of UK degrees - Advance HE responds

20 May 2019 | Advance HE Advance HE has responded to the joint commitment by the UK higher education sector bodies to protect the value of UK degrees.

Commenting on the joint commitment by the UK higher education sector bodies to protect the value of UK degrees, Alison Johns, Advance HE Chief Executive, said,

“We welcome the statement of intent and in particular the commitment to support opportunities for academics to work as external examiners. The support from the funders for Advance HE’s professional development programme and subject-specific calibration activity (devised as part of the Degree Standards project) is especially welcome.

“External examining is a key feature of the UK higher education system and we are very pleased to support the sector in the ongoing work to maintain and enhance the skills which underpin a robust sector-owned process. It’s clear that there is a considerable appetite among higher education providers for the professional development of their staff who are, or aspire to be, external examiners. The engagement with our programmes has been very encouraging.

“Strengthening the external examiners system is a vital element in ensuring the reasonable comparability of academic standards and protecting the value of degrees over time. The project is creating a network of trained staff, who have a shared understanding of assessment standards both generically and in academic subjects.”

Read more about the statement of intent for degree classification

The Degree Standards project

The Degree Standards project is led by Advance HE and managed by the Office for Students on behalf of England and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Wales. The project explores sector-owned processes across the three nations and is focused on professional development for external examiners. Over five years the project aims to: 

·  design, pilot and deliver different approaches to the professional development of external examiners 

·  propose evidence-based and cost-effective longer-term approaches to the professional development of external examiners operating across the higher education system in England, Northern Ireland and Wales

·  explore approaches to the calibration of standards, presenting recommendations for future work in this area.

More than 1600 academic staff from more than 140 UK higher education providers have now been trained as external examiners as part of the Degree Standards project

29 UK institutions have adopted the Professional Development Course (PDC) to train their own staff to become external examiners. So far, 1612 members of academic staff have taken part in the training, and 38 developers have successfully completed the Develop the Developer programme enabling them to facilitate training for others at their home institution on an ongoing basis.

If you would like to find out about how to get involved, please contact us:



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