Annex K: Protocols for VOIP use in examiners' meetings

1.  These protocols are to be read in conjunction with section 4 ('Meetings of examiners') of the Policy and Guidance for Examiners and others involved in University Examinations. All meetings are to be conducted as specified in this document, except as set out below. Requests for clarification of, or exemption from, any of the criteria below should be sent expeditiously to

2.  All of the following criteria apply to all locations connected by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP – a method of communication via the internet, which includes services such as Skype and Webex). The parties in each location must ensure that the criteria are met at that location. Overall responsibility for ensuring that the criteria are met lies with the Chair of Examiners.

3.  Arrangements for VoIP use must be finalised and evidence of points 4-7 below forwarded to the Proctors as part of an application for approval of arrangements and premises at least ten working days in advance of the meeting.

4.  The parties in each location must connect from suitable spaces. A ‘suitable space’ includes but is not limited to dedicated video-conference facilities and is defined as a location that:

a) is quiet and well lit (with ambient noise either inaudible or inconsequential both in the space itself and over the connection), where interruptions are unlikely;

b) has signage placed outside stating that a meeting/examination is in progress, and requesting silence;

c) is fitted with hardware and software sufficient to support a quality of connection that is satisfactory for all parties in each location.

5.  IT support sufficient to support the meeting must be available to respond promptly to any problems that have or may have a negative impact on the conduct or quality of the meeting. However, IT support staff must not enter the meeting space unless requested by the Chair of Examiners, and the meeting should not proceed while members of IT support staff are present.

6.  Once the date and time of the meeting have been agreed (ensuring that any time zone differences have been accounted for and are understood), the examiners should agree which hardware and software to use in consultation with ‘local’ IT officers. Examiners must ensure that they:

a) select hardware and software that they are already competent to use; or

b) make arrangements to ensure that they are competent to use the hardware and software by the scheduled time of the examination; or

c) ensure that they have sufficient IT support on hand on the day of the meeting to ensure that the hardware and software can be used.

7.  In all cases, the Chair must ensure that examiners with disabilities do not experience any disadvantage as a consequence of the VoIP arrangements, and must make reasonable adjustments to accommodate any disabled examiner’s needs. This applies both to access needs and to the conduct of the meeting itself. When considering whether to request from the Proctors permission to conduct a meeting by VoIP, all parties must be asked to disclose any required adjustments prior to any decision to use VoIP.

8.  Relevant contact details necessary to the use of VoIP (Skype profile names, IP addresses etc.) and emergency contact methods (such as telephone and email) must be shared at least 10 working days in advance of the meeting.

9.  A ‘trial run’ must be conducted to establish that both sides of the connection can see and hear the other parties sufficiently, both:

a) three days or longer in advance of the meeting, in order to ensure that any difficulties or problems with hardware, software or the connection can be resolved; and

b) immediately prior to the meeting.

10.  At the beginning of the meeting, all parties must be satisfied as to the identity of all those present and their right to be present, and must state whether they are satisfied with the quality of the connection. If any of the parties are not satisfied, the determination as to whether to continue will be the responsibility of the Chair of Examiners.

11.  At no point, during the meeting, must any communication take place without all parties present. If any breaks become necessary, the meeting must adjourn until all parties are once again present and able to participate. If, at any point, unexpected events occur which disrupt the meeting, it shall be for the Chair of Examiners to determine whether to adjourn the meeting, and to attempt to re-establish the VoIP connection.  If it proves impossible to establish (or re-establish) a video-connection, it will be for the Chair to decide as to whether to proceed with voice-connection only.

12. Audio and/or video recordings of meetings should not be made.  

13. The Proctors may give permission for remote attendance by a particular examiner at more than one meeting where appropriate, provided the need for this has been made clear in the original request and the dates of the relevant meetings are known.

14. Where an internal or external examiner is not required to attend a meeting (for example, an interim meeting where no finalisation of marks takes place) but nevertheless wishes to attend remotely, the Proctors' permission is not required.  However, the above protocols should be followed as good practice.