Questions on Access to the annual report, Style of departmental response and action, Portico function to record the response
Some FAQs are provided below to help answer queries colleagues might have around the report links and responding to External Examiner (EE) reports.
You can view a copy of the most recent External Examiners' annual report which will be used in the upcoming session:
Refer to the flow chart for an overview of the External Examiner Reporting process which can be shared with the External Examiner, staff and students.
The main steps for considering External Examiners’ reports and responses to the report is set out in the document 'Main Steps_response to External Examiners reports'.
Please see below ‘How does Education Services review the EE report and departmental response’ for an update to this process.
- Q. How does Education Services review the EE report and departmental response?
A. We will now wait until the departmental response to the EE’s report has been entered onto Portico, and we will then review both the EE’s report and the departmental response at the same time (as long as the departmental response is entered within the 4 week deadline). This will allow us to take into account the departmental response before deciding if Essential recommendations require escalating to Vice-Provost Education & Student Experience (or her nominee). This means that it is extremely important for your departmental response to fully cover all of the recommendations that the EE makes, and also to include a response to any issues flagged up in the quantitative questions (the questions in sections 1 & 2 with yes/no/NA answers).
Please note that anything flagged up as a risk to standards will continue to be reported to QSC. We will close reports where we are able to, once we have reviewed your departmental response (so please ensure the response you enter onto Portico is your final response).
- Q. The EE has indicated some issues in the quantitative questions (the questions in sections 1 & 2 with yes/no/NA answers), but has not provided further details in the free text sections in section 3. Are we still supposed to provide a response to these points?
A. Yes, please include details of these issues and either how they were dealt with at the BoE meeting, or if they were not raised there, provide a response to these issues now.
- Q. Our EE raised concerns at the BoE that were dealt with fully during that meeting, but has now also raised these concerns in the Essential Recommendations/elsewhere in their report. We feel that we have already dealt with these concerns, is it okay to just note that this was covered at the BoE and not provide anything further?
A. Please do note that these concerns were raised and covered at the BoE, but also provide full details, including actions taken/due to be taken, and timeframe. Anything that is included in the EE’s Portico report needs a full departmental response.
- Q. We have more than one departmental response to enter onto Portico, can we enter multiple responses?
A. Yes, you can enter more than one response, but coordinate when you do this so that they are entered at the same time. This is because, while you have 4 weeks to provide a response, if you submit one earlier we will consider this your final response. Once your response is submitted we will review this and close the EE report straight away if the response is adequate and we do not need to add anything further.
Report Related FAQs
- Q. When do EEs receive their annual report links?
A. Links are generally sent out to External Examiners during the week of the final Board of Examiners meeting provided that 2 pre-Board tasks have been completed by Board teams. Education Services will request Board colleagues to provide BoE dates through a data collection exercise and it is vital this task is completed well in advance of the Board meeting. Colleagues are also required to assign the relevant modules to EEs for fee payment purposes. If these 2 tasks are completed in time and there are no other issues, we will be able to circulate the report link.
- Q. Our EE has deleted the email with their report link, can you please re-send it?
A. The report link email is also sent to Board Administators, so you should have received this and can forward it to your EE. Please note that the link expires after 40 days.
- Q. How is the Board of Examiners date added on Portico?
A. Refer to the page 'Planning Toolkit for Board Teams' for further guidance on completing relevant tasks including populating the BoE date.
- Q. What is the Home Institution code question on the annual report. Where do I find this?
A. In the home instituition code field, type the institution name into that field e.g. Lancaster (hover over the field, help text suggests this). A drop down list will appear where you will be able to select the relevant university code that begins with 'UK'. If the institution does not appear on the list or if there are any other issues, then select / type ‘Other’ and enter the organisation name in the field below.
- Q. Regarding the line ‘Please do not submit your report prior to the final board‘, does this include the Late Summer Assessment (LSA) Board?
No, the EE is expected to submit their report within 1 month of the main summer Board and does not wait till after the LSA Board in September.
We request External Examiners only submit their report once the Board has met and not before the meeting even if they have received the link.
- Q. The External Examiner is having issues saving their work on Portico and losing work. What can they do?
Firefox or Chrome are supported browsers which should be used and multiple sessions should not be open. As the Portico pages can time out if there is limited activity, it is best to draft comments in a word document first and then copy these into the free-text sections of the report to avoid losing any entries. Regularly pressing the save button on the Portico report will help ensure work is not lost.
- Q. I have a PGT Sub-Board in the summer term, does the EE complete a report at this stage and again after the Main Board?
A. No, the EE completes the final annual report after the Main Board of Examiners meeting and should incorporate comments from other Sub-Boards into this final report. Colleagues are requested to enter the final BoE meeting date in the relevant field within the Data Hub task on Portico as we use this data to send External Examiners the links to complete their annual report.
- Q. I am a new Chair (Deputy Chair / Board Admin) and have received the External Examiner’s report in my Portico in tray. What do I do next?
A. Through your Portico in tray review the EE report and when you are ready to respond, it’s advisable to first draft your comments offline (you can use Annex 9.4.6 in Chapter 9 of the Academic Manual). Consult staff and students as appropriate and on Portico enter your response to the entire report. You do this by reviewing the EE report and selecting the button ‘Add a comment’. Another screen will appear where you can copy and paste your comments, clearly labelling the category the response refers to (i.e. Desirable 1). Once saved, review the report again to make sure your comments are stored as these will appear at the top of the screen.
- Q. Is it possible for the EE to submit their report ahead of the Board of Examiners meeting once they have received their report link?
A. We request External Examiners to only submit their report once the Board has met and not before the meeting, even if they have their report link.
Responses Related FAQS
- Q. The External Examiner’s report doesn’t include any recommendations or is completely positive, do I still need to provide a response on Portico?
A. Yes, you do, though it can be brief. In this response you could refer to comments made by the External Examiner during their oral report at the Exam Board, and/or confirm that no issues were reported by the External Examiner. Please also ensure that any recommendations that are in the General Comments section are also responded to. You should also thank the External Examiner for their work.
- Q. When writing my departmental response, how much detail should I give about the actions we will take and who is responsible?
A. It is important that your responses to recommendations are clear, and that you address all recommendations or queries directly, including those in the General Comments section, rather than (for example) noting that issues will be looked at by the appropriate committee in the future, and not providing an action plan. Responses which lack detail are more likely to be returned for a fuller response, so providing a vague response really does delay the process. Please begin by thanking the External Examiner for their work and ensure that for each recommendation you provide an action plan that covers the following points:
1. Any further details on this point that would be helpful
2. The action you will take
3. The person responsible
4. The timeframe for completion
- Q: Can External Examiners see the comments even if the reports are not finalised?
A: No, they can only access them once the reports have been closed. Once closed, the External Examiner receives an automated email with the closed report as an attachment, so they can view the Department’s comments in response to their report. Please do alert External Examiners to this process, so they are aware that when they receive the closed report that it will contain the departmental response, and the reporting process will then be completed.
- Q: Can we update our original response on Portico?
A: No, you cannot update it but you can post a new entry (as long as the report has not been closed). If you want to fully revise the response please email email@example.com and we can delete the earlier entry for you, as long as the report has not already been closed.
Please note that we work on the basis that responses provided on Portico are ready to be reviewed by Education Services, and if appropriate closed, so you should try to ensure that what you enter is the final version (if we close the report you will not be able to change the entry, and the External Examiner and students will have access to the report and the response as it stands).
- Q. What is the summary of departmental responses document template (Academic Manual annex 9.4.3) for? Do we need to use this?
A. We have provided this in case departments find it a useful internal tool, for example, you may wish to fill this out for each report and then take this to DTCs and/or SSCCs to discuss External Examiner feedback and required departmental actions. However, it is not a central requirement that you fill in this form and it should not be sent to Education Services, and cannot be uploaded to Portico. If you do make use of the form, and want to record the same response onto Portico, you will need to manually copy and paste from the form into Portico, which may involve a loss of formatting.
- Q. I have written a departmental response in word, but I can’t seem to upload this onto Portico.
A. No, you cannot upload documents to Portico, so you will need to copy and paste this directly into Portico.
If your departmental response is going to be quite long, we suggest that you write it into a word document first, where you will benefit from the spell check function, and ensure that you don’t get caught out if Portico freezes and your unsaved response is lost. Please do note though that you may lose formatting when you copy and paste into Portico.
- Q. I have entered my departmental response onto Portico, but this comment has been duplicated/is now showing multiple times on the report. What do I need to do?
A. We are aware of this issue with Portico. Occasionally, once a comment has been entered onto Portico, it will show up two or more times. Please don’t worry about this. Education Services reviews all responses before closing the report, and will remove these duplicate responses before closing the report. You do not need to email us to alert us to this issue.
- Q. The Board of Examiners Data Hub task has rolled over to the next session and I have to provide an offline response to the report but its not in my Portico In tray. Where can I find the report?
It is no longer possible to access reports from the previous session from Portico in-trays once the roll over has happened, and so in order to view the External Examiner report Board teams will need to:
1. Log onto Portico and go to the ‘Awards, Assessments and Achievements’ section
2. In the ‘Board of Examiners’ container click on the ‘Board of examiners data hub’ task
3. Search for the relevant board and click on the board name to access the EE reports
4. Find the relevant External Examiner and click on the link in the column ‘Report Status for 20XX-XX’
5. Find the relevant 20XX row, and click on the link in the ‘File Name’ column to download the report.
6. This takes you to the ‘closed’ historic report. If you want to save the report, right click when in it and press ‘Save As… or 'Print...’ (you will need to save it as a html file, or you can print the file to a pdf).
- Q. What is the process to provide an offline response if the report has been closed?
Exam Board Chairs are responsible for ensuring that a departmental response is recorded on Portico within four weeks of submission of the annual report by the External Examiner.
If the report has been closed without a standard Departmental response, Board teams are required to send a formal response directly to the EE and provide the response and EE report through Moodle / appropriate channels for students to access. A response is still required even if the report is entirely positive (i.e. to thank the External Examiner for their report). Please consult / notify your Faculty Tutors once completed.
Contact details for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org