The external examiner: how did we get here?
Presentation from the UKCLE/ALT workshop on external examiners, 6 June 2003
Mike Cuthbert (University College Northampton) traces the development of the external examiner system from the 19th century to the present day, concluding that the time is right for a rethink of their role.
As Professor Harold Silver (1996) detailed, the origins of the external examiner system can be traced back to 1832 when the University of Durham was established. However, these external examiners were ‘extra hands’ or additional examiners to help with the setting and marking of examinations. The benefit to the University of Durham of using Oxford examiners was the confirmation to the outside world that their degrees were of a comparable standard. Thus, although not the main consideration, from the beginning of external examiners one implication has been a statement, whether explicit or implicit, about standards.
By the 1880s a further expansion in the number of universities was accompanied by a requirement that examinations should be conducted by internal and external examiners. Although no longer seen as an extra pair of hands, external examiners were used as part of judgments about the standard of courses. The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) issued a code of practice for external examining at undergraduate and masters levels in 1984. The Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA), established in 1964, maintained a system of external examining in the non-university sector and produced a set of guidance notes in 1980. These notes provided good practice guidelines for the required role of the external examiner, norms of provision of information and support, the relationship between internal and external examiners within the system, the writing of reports and the response from the institution.
Now seen as an essential element in British higher education, external examiners have survived the enlargement of the sector and the establishment of first the Higher Education Quality Council (HEQC) and now the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). However, there have been questions asked as to whether the external examiners system could survive and fulfil the expectations placed upon it by those stakeholders in the university system. Could it continue its traditional role as the mechanism of ensuring comparability and maintenance of standards across the higher education sector? Why should it be questioned?
Doubts have been raised due to the expansion of higher education from a participation rate of 3% to one of over 30% and a target of 50%. Part of this growth has been made possible by the recruitment of mature students or students with non-traditional entry qualifications. Thus the British higher education system has evolved in a fairly short period from a relatively small and homogenous system to a larger and a more heterogeneous one. This growth in student numbers has been accompanied by changes in the structure of courses, including semesterisation and modular programmes. In order to cope with these changes, universities have introduced greater variety in the pattern of assessing students. They have also sought to demonstrate maintenance of standards by more sophisticated quality assurance systems. Can the external examiner be part of this mechanism?
A review of the external examiner system in the late 1980s (CNAA, 1989) identified the external examiner as being in a unique position in the quality assurance jigsaw, because they are chosen for subject specialist expertise and standing, and “they work with internals to inform, develop, and assure the structures and practices of the university”. However, the same report stated: “The judgement and action of examiners are largely informed by experience and knowledge of their subject and very little informed by an equally pertinent body of knowledge about examinations and the measurement of human performance. Training workshops and regular meetings of external examiners would make a significant contribution but fall short of what ultimately may come to be seen as necessary: a professional training for teachers in higher education.”
The 1980s saw a great deal of scrutiny of the role of the external examiner. The Lindop Report (1985) pointed out that: “The external examining system is widely held to play a vital part in the maintenance of standards at degree level. We agree that it should play a vital part. We are, however, concerned that there are wide variations in practice between institutions and between examiners which lessen the overall effectiveness of the system. One reason for this is the confusion that exists regarding the precise functions of external examiners.” Lindop emphasised the importance of the growing role of the external examiner, which had become increasingly diverse, encompassing advice on structure, course content and possible improvements. He suggested that the external examiner would be assisted in this wider role by in-depth knowledge of the course and its related staff, informed visits and discussions outside of the normal examining period. This was contrary to the guidelines produced by the CNAA, and added to the confusion of roles.
A HEQC report (1994) made some sharp criticisms of the external examiner system, noting: “There are no generally agreed or used standards, criteria or procedures to nominate, select and appoint external examiners across universities…briefings to external examiners on their role vary from comprehensive to nugatory…the impact of external examiners on the operation of programmes within universities often varies considerably…some reports are uninformative and unhelpful for assessing many aspects of the programme of study”.
HEQC commissioned a review of the external examining system, including a major consultative exercise. There had been doubts about the ability of the system to cope in the 1990s, with mass higher education, modular programmes, credit transfers and the reluctance of some staff to take on the external examiner role because of poor pay. The review (Silver, Stennett and Williams, 1995) was carried out on behalf of the Open University (OU) by means of a survey of the 50 institutions accredited by the OU. The survey concluded that the external examiner system should continue, due to its emphasis on justice, standards and comparability. Professor Silver stated: “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”. The institutions said that the system reassured students and the institutions themselves, that the awards were ‘acceptable’ and standards comparable.
The subsequent HEQC consultative document on the future development of the system (1995) identified three main modes in which external examiners function:
- relating to judgements that are essentially subject based – examiners are concerned with judging and verifying the standard set and attained by individual students and cohorts of students, using their own professional expertise and experience
- separating the judgements and verifications of standards at the subject level from those at the level of the award
- where the external examiner is concerned with the conduct of assessment and examinations
Silver stated that there are 10,000 external examiner slots to be filled at any one time, but a growing reluctance by academics to fill them. Why? Some academics recognised that such a role can “often be interesting, but it has also been time consuming, boring and frankly depressing” (Bassnett, 1996). (The frustration experienced by some experienced busy academics, when they ask themselves during often long and complicated examination boards why they are there! Are they there to be a rubber stamp?) There was also the problem for some potential external examiners of the ‘unprofessional’ pay and lack of recognition. Yet “every new institution entering the definition of ‘higher education’ accepted the external examiner as a symbol of its legitimacy”.
The second audit report by HEQC (1996a) noted that “institutions are becoming increasingly aware of the significant resource required to run effective quality assurance procedures – an important consideration when funding to higher education is being cut…the ways in which institutions determine and maintain academic standards have also been raised as a concern”. The audit revealed an overwhelming reliance on the external examiner system which, the report states, clearly demonstrated a lack of articulation into the meaning of academic standards at the institutional level. This over-reliance stemmed from the fact that it had always been explicitly stated (by both the CVCP and the former CNAA) that one of the dual purposes of the external examiner system was to ensure that degrees awarded in similar subjects were of a comparable standard across higher education. However, the study for HEQC on the effectiveness of the system (Silver, Stennett and Williams, 1995) showed that this purpose was no longer possible in today’s system of mass and diversified higher education, a conclusion confirmed through further work by HEQC (1996a).
HEQC (1996b) issued a further report on external examiners, which was both damning (“the external examiner system can no longer be plausibly described as effective in calibrating standards across higher education”) and positive (“the external examiner is of vital importance in maintaining and improving the quality of work in higher education”). How could this Jekyll and Hyde persona continue? Was reform of the external examiner system the only solution if it was to continue in some form? However, as mentioned above in the 1995 survey, its continuation was demanded by the sector. One of the best ways of ensuring that universities did not become complacent, isolated or introverted was to bring in outside academics whose independent opinions would be taken more seriously. Is this the external examiner equivalent of the reflective academic?
Previous guidance (HEQC, 1996b) on strengthening the external examiner system suggested that:
- institutions should continue to be responsible and accountable for the quality and standards of their programmes and awards
- external examining should always be regarded as part of wider quality assurance arrangements
- external examiners should support institutions by being informed and appropriate external arbiters
- a national framework should be established, specifying minimum expectations and requirements, but allowing institutions to adopt local systems in order to meet their specific needs
As Susan Bassnett identified (1996), “British universities may be moving closer to their European counterparts in terms of numbers, but one aspect of university life remains different”. And the key to this difference was the system of external examiners. No other European country, apart from Denmark, has a system of external examining similar to that developed in the UK. Is it compatible to have large numbers of students and a system of external examiners? Ms Bassnett’s conclusion was that “the prized British system of the external examiner is coming to an end”.
External examiners: the foreign experience
One of the few European countries to have a system of external examiners is Denmark. Initiated in 1871 at the University of Copenhagen, external examiners are now characteristic of the Danish educational system at all levels. The main tasks of external examiners are to guarantee that:
- the aims and demands of examinations are in accordance with the curricula
- examination procedures are in accordance with the appropriate rules
- students receive an equal and just treatment
- their efforts are a relevant and trustworthy appraisal
This seems very close to the expectations of external examiners in the UK. However, in 1992 the system of external examiners in higher education was reorganised in order to strengthen it. This concentrated on the independence of external examiners vis-a-vis higher education institutions, the dialogue between external examiners and departments, the representation of external examiners in relation to the employers of the graduates and ways and means of using the system of external examiners to enhance the quality of study programmes. This perhaps incorporates some of the points raised by the Dearing Report, discussed below.
There was a period of initial scepticism about the reforms, as there was a fear that they were becoming more bureaucratic. However, the feedback from institutions is increasingly positive. This has been linked with the realisation that there is a need for accountability, and their interest in a professional, external evaluation agency, and the scrutiny has been used to motivate institutions (Christian Thune 1997).
Denmark is the exception on mainland Europe, where it was not generally felt necessary to have a system of external examiners. Does the absence of external examiners mean that the implications of the Bologna Declaration are flawed by ‘standards on the continent’? How about countries which we have influenced via the Commonwealth? Have those countries that have adopted our common law system followed our lead with regard to external examiners? The USA and Canada certainly have not. They prefer a system of accreditation. In the interests of research the author contacted the Australian Centre for Legal Education. They told me that they did not have external examiners in Australia, but suggested I contact the University of Malaya! The following extract explains:
The examination procedures for postgraduate theses at Monash rely heavily on external examiners, as they do in all Australian universities. However, there is little interest in the use of external examiners at the undergraduate level. Even for honour theses, it is comparatively rare. The possibility of extending the practice has been raised during discussions of quality assurance in the last few years, but there is almost no support for it. The argument is usually that it is impractical, given the numbers involved and the tightness of examining schedules, especially in a semesterised system. It is also clear that Australian academics consider it unnecessary for undergraduate programmes
— (Baldwin, 1997)
The Dearing Report
The Dearing Committee was asked to “think the unthinkable” with regard to higher education, yet its report (1997) does seem to lack some ‘joined up thinking’ with regard to external examiners and quality assurance. It also seems to have ignored much of the academic investigation which had taken place into external examining in the previous ten years.
In evidence to the Committee “only a minority of respondents comment on the external examiner system but, of those that do, almost all voice explicit support for the system as a means of upholding national standards. Even those who are suggesting that varied standards should be recognised also see a role for external examiners in helping to deliver on the standards to which programmes would be operating”. Even though “the systems in the UK for assuring the quality of higher education provision are among the most rigorous in the world…if institutions are willing to develop in this way, so that it is clear to all stakeholders what they can expect from higher education, we believe that it will be possible to restore a ‘qualified trust’ between higher education institutions, students and the public funders of higher education”.
Why is there an element of distrust? Dearing says that “there has been an expansion of student numbers unmatched by increases in funding”. This has been accompanied by, “in some areas professional bodies are expressing concern about present arrangements…we are also concerned about the low level of confidence among some employers about standards of qualifications awarded”. During this period we had a system Teaching Quality Assessments (TQA) overseen by the funding bodies, however, the view of the Dearing Committee was “given that the vast majority of outcomes have been satisfactory, we are not convinced that it would be the best use of scarce resources to continue the system in the long term…for the longer term we see the way forward lying in the development of common standards, specified and verified through a strengthened external examiner system, supported by a lighter approach to quality assessment”.
In a fairly short period of time we have gone from one of the most rigorous systems in the world for ensuring quality to one which needed to be replaced because of the results that system is producing! How would industry have responded to such a statement? If the system for environmental health or health and safety checks had given too many ‘satisfactory’ results would we replace it or salute the high standards we have in our restaurants or business establishments?
Given the remit of ‘thinking the unthinkable’, Dearing proposed “to build from established practice [ie external examiners] to create a more effective mechanism through which, while awards remain the responsibility of the individual institutions, there is acceptance that that general standard of awards is a shared responsibility of the whole academic community”. This resulted in Recommendation 25, which included a recommendation to the Quality Assurance Agency that its early work should include:
- to work with institutions to establish small, expert teams to provide benchmark information on standards, in particular threshold standards, operating within the framework of qualifications, and completing the task by 2000
- to work with universities and other degree-awarding institutions to create, within three years, a UK-wide pool of academic staff recognised by the Quality Assurance Agency from which institutions must select external examiners
The benchmark information referred to in this recommendation “should be used by external examiners to validate whether programmes are within the agreed standards for particular awards”.
The Dearing Report also called for a more ‘professional’ approach to the work of the external examiner:
“The remit of the external examiner will need to be consistent across the UK, necessitating thorough familiarisation, training and preparation, including a trainee/apprentice model for new external examiners. Examiners will need to be fully aware of the aims, teaching methods and approach of programmes under examination. This will require considerable interaction with departments to develop familiarity with entire programmes and how they are constructed from modules throughout the various levels. A further role for the Agency, which would support the work of external examiners, would be to encourage institutions to maintain archive scripts to facilitate the maintenance of standards over time.”
The Report recognised this wider remit of the external examiner: “institutions will need to release members of staff for extended periods of time throughout the academic year, possibly up to 60 days a year”, but this new system would involve a considerably lighter burden on institutions than the existing regime of subject-based quality assessments.
Would this system, involving reviewing past examination scripts, improve standards? If external examiners were consistently fulfilling their role would such a review be cost effective? Or are we revisiting a theme which has its origins in the very creation of the external examiner – public confidence? One of the final comments in the Report perhaps puts the matter more clearly:
“The diversity of programme provision and of students will continue [to] be a valued element in higher education. We welcome choice, flexibility and wide access. However, we seek to encourage diversity within a framework where qualifications are widely understood, standards are high and respected, and the quality of teaching and student learning is amongst the best in the world. In the absence of the infrastructure and arrangements of the kind we propose, pressures for increased and direct intervention from outside [the] higher education system will intensify.”
Cambridge University warned that the Dearing proposals for a national pool of external examiners might make too many demands on staff time and institutions’ resources: “they will be discouraging to those who are of most value as external examiners to universities” (THES, 1997).
Lord Beloff gave his view: “The calls upon senior university staff not only for administrative duties but for publications needed to bolster their departments’ claims for research money makes it impossible to expect that external examiners can be found to give to their tasks the time and concentration which could once have been expected of them” (Lord Beloff, 1996).
The Quality Assurance Agency agenda
The government’s response to the Dearing Report (1998) accepted all the specific recommendations concerning quality from the Dearing Report, including those relating to external examiners.
The March 1998 edition of the bulletin of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) set out for consultation the Agency’s Agenda for quality, based on the Dearing proposals. This document laid out in some detail what the QAA was considering to implement for higher education in the UK. Before looking at the specific points it raised for external examining, it is worth repeating the objectives for the system the QAA set itself to implement. These are very important, as they have influenced the resulting discussion of external examiners.
The Agency seeks to develop an effective system for assuring quality and standards that:
- is efficient, economical and reduces the burden of external scrutiny of institutions
- satisfies the information needs of a wide range of stakeholders
- enables funding bodies to satisfy themselves that value is being obtained for the public funds they distribute
- enhances quality through continuous improvement
- promotes public confidence in the UK higher education
Part VII of the consultation document has the title ‘Strengthening the external examiner system and developing the role of the registered external examiner’. Adopting Recommendation 25 from the Dearing Report the QAA proposed the introduction of a new type of external examiner. This was to be the ‘registered external examiner’ or REE. The REE was to have an extended role, including reporting to the Agency, as well as the university, on standards and quality at subject and programme level. In this way the REE would contribute directly to the public information to be made available by the Agency, and in so doing assure the public as to the standards and quality of the outputs, ie graduates, of universities. This was to be a development which built upon the existing external examiner system and utilised the new subject benchmarks and national qualifications framework recommended by Dearing.
The wider role of the REE, beyond that of the normal external examiner, could include not just outcomes but also the quality of the student experience. At the same time the Agency was seeking to reduce the level of burden on institutions by designing a single process carried out by the REE which would also satisfy the professional and statutory bodies (PSBs) such as the Law Society.
The consultation document acknowledged that the existing system of external examining was under pressure and, given recent concerns about variations in academic standards, it was not surprising that the Dearing Report proposed important adaptations. By building upon the HEQC guidelines and Dearing, the QAA said that its proposals would move the higher education sector to a system in which there were consistent mechanisms demonstrating some collectivism in the definition and setting of standards, which would then be verified and calibrated by the REEs. The proposals would:
- give external examiners an explicit role in public assurance of quality and standards
- create a national framework within which external examiners would operate
- require external examiners to be registered and competent
- create a mechanism which enable institutions to compare their academic standards in a more systematic and informed way
The current external examiner system was not a national system, and the fact that it did not operate within a national code of practice and did not require registration of practitioners was considered a weakness. At the Association of Law Teachers’ conference held in London in February 1998 on external examining, John Randall drew a contrast between those who undertake assessment or verification in National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), where they needed to be qualified in techniques of assessment, whereas for degrees or PhDs they did not.
Paragraph 12, Part VII of the consultation document attempted to deal with this situation, stating that: “There would be considerable merit in the development of commonly accepted criteria for effective performance by external examiners to ensure that they work to common standards of competence…the REEs would need to be acknowledged subject experts who can command the respect of their peers. They will need to be well versed in the various methods used for assessment of student performance, to be familiar with the tasks of verifying and calibrating standards and to possess a clear understanding of their role…the performance criteria the Agency proposes for REEs could be used by institutions for planning the development of staff who aspire to be external examiners. The Agency hopes that institutions would increasingly require membership of the register for all external examiners.”
It was also at this time that the QAA was dealing with the quality issues raised at Thames Valley University and was encountering the inconsistencies of external examiners’ reports.
A possible variant on the approach outlined above was given in the consultation document, closer in many respects to the current practice in external examining and external subject review. As under the current system of quality assurance there would be a cycle of reports. The Agency would produce a report for each subject in each institution, followed by a sector-wide subject report, every five or six years. Every effort would be made to align the reporting cycle with the accreditation cycle so as to eliminate duplication of effort.
The Agency regarded the Dearing proposals for a time commitment of up to 60 days as unrealistic, and was developing its proposals on the basis that the likely commitment would be about 10-15 days, with the heaviest commitment in the year a particular subject was being reviewed. (Now proposed at 5-6 days per institution)
The was some concern at the REE proposals, notably in the possible conflict of interest it would create between the external examiners relationship with the university and the Agency. There was also a feeling that the QAA did not fully understand how the external examiner role worked on the ground! The CVCP did not support the introduction of a system of REE, but instead supported the external reviewer model, which had been put forward as an alternative in the QAA consultation paper.
Following growing criticism from the Russell and ’94 groups of universities, some accused the QAA of ignoring the research undertaken by its predecessor, the HEQC. “The Agency would encourage all external examiners to be assessed against specified occupational standards and performance criteria. In other words, the Agency wants external examiners to become the main guarantee of standards in higher education at exactly the time when they are increasingly irrelevant to the setting of degree standards” (Wolf, 1998).
In June 1998 the THES reported that the QAA was rethinking its plans: “the QAA appears to be heading for a system based on the second variant outlined in the consultation paper. The key difference is that external examiners would not report directly to the QAA. This job would be given to ‘academic reporters’ appointed by the Agency. They would draw on the experience of the external examiners to decide whether the threshold standards and programme objectives were being achieved. They would produce periodic reports for publication. This would meet the suggestion of Dearing that ‘…benchmark information…should be used by external examiners to validate whether programmes are within the agreed standards for particular awards” (Tysome, 1998).
Addressing the CVCP standards and quality group on the same day as the THES published this article John Randall confirmed that the Agency would leave external examiners in their traditional role, rather than involving them in external checks for the agency. Instead ‘reviewers’ or ‘reporters’ would monitor institutions’ own quality checks.
The continuing debate
The modern academic is subject to many pressures: “he or she teaches, advises students, shares in the making of policy, monitors its implementation, allocates priorities and defends them against financial pressures, validates, reviews, takes turns with departmental and faculty responsibilities, deals with admissions and alumni, and most importantly…is concerned with the standards of courses, modules, units, programmes and students; in other words with planning, teaching and assessment” (Silver, 1997). Yet there is strong support for the recognition of external examining as a legitimate, expected, costed part of the normal duties of academic staff, given time to serve as external examiners, encouraged, and the activity recognised alongside other academic responsibilities (Silver, Stennett and Williams, 1995).
Professor Silver stresses in his report the importance of institutions recognising the resource they have in their external examiners and encouraging dialogue between those on their own staff who act as externals elsewhere. This dialogue could feed into the quality assurance processes of institutions and be recognised as a full role in the life of an academic.
One of the main roles of the external examiner is to maintain a broad comparability of standards across the national system of higher education. With a small ‘elitist’ system this hope had a theoretical plausibility, but could it be true now? Professor Ronald Barnett questions “whether it was ever possible to maintain a broad comparability of standards across the system. In truth we do not know with any sureness what the real picture was” (Barnett, 1998). He also doubts if it was ever homogeneous, given that “differences in mission, value system, clientele and sheer inner culture were always significant and have recently become apparent with the formation of a ‘unified’ higher education system…since the mid-sixties, and arguably even before then, we have not had anything approaching a homogeneous system in the UK. The fiction could be upheld because the non-university system was largely invisible, with its different names for institutions and its different statutory basis”.
If the idea was always a fiction, it fulfilled the need to provide confidence and was perhaps an early example of ‘spin doctors’! But this ignores the positives that external examiners do bring with them, including ensuring that justice is done to the individual candidate, and “it enables us to practice what we preach as a form of institutionalised critical reflection, it is a living out of an idea of critical dialogue in the company of one’s peers, an idea which we apply readily enough to our research and scholarly activities but to which we seem strangely reticent in the context of our teaching activities. At its best, too, external examining goes further than offering a critical commentary: it enhances what we do in higher education” (Barnett, 1998).
After the consultation: the QAA proposals for the scrutiny of academic standards
In the October 1998 issue of its bulletin, entitled The way ahead, the QAA announced that “we have striven to develop a model that can command the support of the sector whilst ensuring a high level of public confidence”. The Dearing proposals giving external examiners a wider role and reporting to the Agency had gone. The independent role of the external examiner had not been compromised! Instead there was an ‘academic reviewer’, appointed by the QAA, who would draw upon the experience of the external examiner in order to make judgements on the outcomes of academic programmes.
However, the QAA does not act in a vacuum; in fact many would say that it inhabits a world which is somewhere between ‘a rock and a hard place’. Just like universities the QAA has someone who provides funding and to whom they are accountable. In fact it is the same funding councils for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which fund universities! It was hardly surprising, therefore, that the QAA was relieved in September 1998 when the funding councils agreed to the broad principles of their blueprint. However, the QAA had been forced to toughen up plans for policing higher education by the funding chiefs. They, or was it their funders the Treasury, were concerned that the framework might not be robust enough to secure value for money from public funds. On the basis that if you set objectives they should be measurable, were there sufficient ‘figures’ in the outcome of the process? This view had to be balanced against QAA’s other constituents, the universities, who favoured a lighter touch more consistent with their autonomy. The negotiations therefore continued and much depended on final horse-trading. The present quality assurance system was attractive because it provided clear marks out of 24 over six areas, its weakness was that too many institutions did too well!
The new QAA framework was seen as an honest attempt to balance the views put forward in response to its consultative document. It was an attempt to develop a system supported by the universities while ensuring a high level of public confidence that quality and standards in higher education were being safeguarded and enhanced. The proposal made by Dearing that external examiners should report directly to the QAA had gone, in response to the fear that the independent role of the external examiner as a ‘critical friend’ would be undermined, with a loss of frankness in reporting. Instead we had the academic reviewer, who drew upon the experience of external examiners.
But this does not mean that the traditional role of the external examiner will continue without some reforms. The QAA has produced a Code of practice on external examining, a reference point universities are expected to comply with. In January 2003 the Teaching Quality Enhancement Committee (TQEC) chaired by Professor Cooke made some recommendations to strengthen external examining. The government white paper, The future of higher education, states that the external examining system will be strengthened by improving training and induction. External examiners are still seen as advising institutions on the comparability of their standards, “and in many respects act as guardians of the public purse and of the reputation of higher education”. From 2004 summaries of external examiners’ reports are to be published, probably on the Internet, by universities.
In the ‘real world’ the outcome is that we have retained external examiners, but do they fulfil any function other than ceremonial? Are they the equivalent of the constitutional monarch who has “the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn” (with apologies to Bagehot)?
- Baldwin G (1997) ‘An Australian approach to quality in higher education: the case of Monash University’ in J Brennan, P de Vries & R Williams Standards and quality assurance and evaluation of higher education London: Jessica Kingsley
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- Bassnett S (1996) ‘Myth belonging to another age’ Times Higher Education Supplement, 19 July
- Lord Beloff (1996) ‘Loamshire quality questioned by degrees’ Times Higher Education Supplement 15 November
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- Times Higher Education Supplement (1997) ‘Oxbridge turns guns on report’ THES, 17 October
- Silver H (1997) ‘External examining and the academic’ in G Wisker (ed) Making the most of the external examiner (SEDA Paper 98) Birmingham: SEDA
- Silver H (1996) in R Aldrich (ed) In history and education: essays presented to Peter Gordon Woburn: Woburn Press
- Silver H, Stennett A and Williams R (1995) The external examiner system: possible futures (report of a project commissioned by the Higher Education Quality Council) London: Open University Quality Support Centre
- Tysome T (1998) ‘Quality: how it all fits together’ Times Higher Education Supplement, 5 June
- Wolf A (1998) ‘Two side of A4 will not do the trick’ Times Higher Education Supplement, 22 May
Last Modified: 4 June 2010