Being an external examiner is not in an academic's job-description. It is something that academics take on to ensure the quality of education is maintained and is required by the Quality Assurance Agency.
On 16th March, UCU put out a call for external examiners to resign.
The 64 universities hit by strike action over plans to slash staff pensions face further problems with external examiners being asked to resign any position at those institutions and not take up any new posts with them.
UCU is appealing to all members who currently hold external examiner positions at those 65 institutions to resign and not to accept any new posts until the dispute is resolved.
UCU said external examiners resigning would cause universities a number of specific problems around the setting and marking of exams. External examiners agree the setting of questions, moderate exam results and ensure that institutions' assessment procedures are rigorous.
The union has issued guidance and a template resignation letter for members and said they must provide the relevant institution with due notice of termination, as specified under the terms of their contract.
Further strikes are also planned to hit the exam and assessment period with exact dates expected to be announced in the next week.
The dispute centres on universities' proposals to slash the benefits of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'We are calling on external examiners to resign their positions at those universities in dispute over plans to slash staff pensions. External examiners ensure the rigorous quality standards in our universities, which must be upheld.
'No student or university will want the quality of their degree called into question, so we advise universities' representatives to get back round the table with us as soon as possible to get this dispute resolved.'