Consultation on payments for examining and supervising

The recently announced consultation on payments for examining and supervising is postponed given the current difficult circumstances everyone faces with the current lockdown. Feedback already received will be retained. 

 

Consultation

All staff are invited to take part in the consultation on this issue by completing the Oxford Survey on Examination and Supervision Fees.

The Personnel Committee will receive a summary of the responses given in the survey and it will discuss what to do in response at its meeting in Trinity Term.  

Background

Personnel Committee is reviewing the use of examination and supervision fees, with the aim of simplifying the current system and ensuring that we pay fair rates to all.

At present fees are paid in accordance with the Schedule of Supervisors’ and Examiners’ Fees, which has developed over time into a complex document, with over 50 different rates and no clear ownership.

The implementation of a revised payment schedule is expected to have a positive impact on equality, by bringing about a more consistent and fair approach to payments for examining and supervising.  Owing to the complexity of the current schedule, departments have reported it as wasteful in terms of the convoluted administration involved.

Going forward the Personnel Committee will be responsible for the revised Schedule.

At present, fees are paid to anyone appointed to an examining role, whether or not they have a contractual duty to examine. Statutory Professors, Clinical Professors, Readers and Associate Professors have a contractual duty to examine i.e. it is set out in Council Regulations and contracts of employment.

Fees are paid for appointment to the roles of Chair of Examiners, External Examiner, Examiner, Assessor, and Supervisor and payments made against the fee schedule.

In the financial year 2018/19, fees totaling circa £1.8 million were paid for examining and supervising, of which 61% were paid to staff with a contractual duty to supervise and examine.

1,450 internal staff with a contractual duty to supervise and examine received payments in 2019. The median payment for examining fees was £400; the median payment for supervision fees was £300; and for those carrying out both the median payment was £670.The value of an individual payment ranged from £2.27 to £6,200.

Matters under consideration

The Committee has been considering proposals to simplify the examination fee schedule. These proposals were developed by a working group with departmental and divisional representation and recommend increasing a number of the rates of pay for setting and marking papers, including increasing the lowest rate by 45%.

As part of the proposals Personnel Committee is considering the removal of additional fees from those who already have a contractual duty to examine and supervise (including both postgraduate teaching and research supervision). It is recognised that those who take part in supervising and examining have an expectation that they will be paid, and that many will see this as fair recompense for those who take on these duties. However, the removal of additional fees from those who already have a contractual duty to examine would enable departments and faculties to bear higher costs for those – often early career researchers and academics with lower-paid roles – who have no existing obligation for examining and whose contribution is vital.

No consideration is being given to removing fees from external examiners or those with no contractual duty to examine, or to removing payments for the role of Chair of Examiners from anyone.