Undersøgelse af en ny organisatorisk forankring og indretning af censorinstitutionen

Klaus Lynbech

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


The title for this project is derived from the 1788 foundation for the University of Copenhagen. In the foundation, two external examiners were mandated – along with the examiner from the university – for the examinations of the graduation candidates. The institution – or system – of external examiners is a unique Danish institution where appointed professionals not connected to the educational facility in question participates in the exams to secure an independent and reliable valuation of the students on all levels and branches of study. This institution of external examiners is still in place, more than 230 years after its first installment.1 Over the past 50 years, the institution has been scrutinized several times, each time resulting in the continuation of the institution with only minor changes to the regulating provisions, with but one major change in 1971 where the number of external examiners was reduced from two to one. In 2015 Kvalitetsudvalget (Committee for Quality and Relevance in Higher Education) suggested, that the external examiners institution should be abolished, as the suggested cost amounted to allegedly DKK 500 million, and the committee found, that the expenditure did not produce a satisfying value. This proposal was not received with any enthusiasm from the relevant parties, including the universities and other higher education institutions. Another committee, Censorudvalget (External Examiners Committee), was formed to further investigate the relevance of the institution and, among other things, possible changes to the organizational embedment of the external examiners and their chairmanships. The fundamental finding from the committee was that the institution is still relevant and of value, and it suggested a new way of organizing the external examiners under the universities. This suggestion got a mixed but generally negative reception from the external examiners but also from universities and outside parties representing organizations employing the candidates. This project investigates a new organizational setup for the external examiners delimited to academic educations at the universities, and in this regard considering the independency needed for the reliable valuation of the students in the event of exams – oral, written or both. The theoretical framework is based on primarily Michael H. Moore's public value-concept with an adaption of his strategic triangle for the analysis of the institution and the value it provides, its legitimacy and support along with the operational capacity, which in Moore's theoretical 1 A further and thorough explanation of the institution of external examiners in Denmark for anyone new to the system would far exceed the limits that restrains the abstract to be provided in this context. 2 framework are interdependent factors of public value creation.2 Moore's framework is supplemented by theoretical inputs from the accountability literature,3 as this complements Moore's framework in this regard, where the reliable valuation of students also implies features found in accountability systems. The method is based on a document review based on primarily both the committee's reports and the consultation responses based on the report and recommendations of Censorudvalget. After a historical review of the institution of external examiners, the analysis of the project considers the suggestions from Censorudvalget, where the proposed value – and the basis for its creation, the independency of the external examiners and the resulting reliability in the valuations – is examined through the lens of Moore's three parameters and the concept of accountability. The project concludes with recommendations as to the organizational arrangements best suited for sustaining the core feature of the external examiners, the independency and the reliability in the valuation of the students. The many bodies of external examiners (for the time being 101 for university educations) should be reduced to a much smaller number (subject to further investigation as to what subjects to pool); the chairmen of the external examiners should be appointed by the minister following nomination per election by the external examiners among themselves; and the establishment of an independent national administrative body caring for the chairmanships of the external examiners.

Educations, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages58
SupervisorsCarsten Greve & Sof Thrane