16 September 2016
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has finalised
its investigation into a 2013 video recording that alleged serious
concerns about the College's examination process and policies.
The complaint related to a secret, illegal recording made of one
segment of a 2013 RACS Fellowship examination in one of the nine
RACS specialties. All candidates who went through this examination
section in May 2013 have since passed the examination and are
Fellows of RACS.
RACS received the complaint in April 2016 and in May 2016
established a specifically constituted complaints committee to deal
with it, consistent with RACS complaints procedures.
The committee included two senior surgeons and a senior,
independent community member.
The committee investigated whether, in 2013, there was a breach
of RACS examination procedures and whether the material on the tape
reflected, or misrepresented, the actual candidate assessment.
The committee's investigation included specialist, independent
analysis of the tape and related information. The analysis found
that the video recording (which was the basis of the complaint) had
been significantly manipulated to support the allegations, and did
not accurately reflect what took place in the examination. All
meta-data in the video had been removed in production. The
committee reviewed the actual audio examination recording.
There was no evidence of bias in the way the examination was
conducted and therefore the allegations, made on the basis of the
video, were not proven. Minor breaches of examination policy were
found, however the committee noted that the outcome of the
assessment was not affected. These related to processes for
recording scores and candidate identification.
RACS has reminded all examiners that its examination policy
requires that all examination candidates must be de-identified in
examinations, and that scores must be given contemporaneously. All
RACS examiners are required to complete the RACS Examiner Training
Course, and there has been 100 per cent compliance.
The examiners concerned did not participate in examination
activities while RACS investigated these allegations.
Since April 2016, RACS has strengthened the examination process
to protect its integrity, including:
- Increasing examiner education
- Introducing external observation (by examiners from another
- Introducing new policies, processes or practices
- The introduction of observers to monitor examiner engagement
- Review of Examiner Training Course, with a refresher course in
- Commitment to review the practice of consensus scoring
- Examiner briefings on exam requirements and processes before
This matter has now been resolved and RACS will not comment
further at this time.
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