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Two universities record June pre-reg exam pass rates below 50%

The University of Central Lancashire and the University of Wolverhampton recorded pass rates below 50% in the June pre-reg exam, according to the GPhC.

The pharmacy schools registered first-attempt pass rates of 46.7% and 47.5% respectively – considerably lower than their corresponding pass rates of 56.8% and 65.7% in June 2018 – according to General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) documents published ahead of its council meeting yesterday (September 12).

The University of Central Lancashire told C+D: “While these latest results are disappointing, we have made recent investments into our pharmacy provision in terms of staffing and resources, so we’re confident that attainment levels will improve in the future,” (see more of the University’s response below).

A spokesperson for the University of Wolverhampton said: “The university is disappointed with the registration assessment pass rates.

“How we prepare our students for entry to the pre-registration training year is always under constant review and we are working closely with the GPhC in this regard.”

For the second year in a row, University College London reported the highest first-attempt pass rate, with 92.8% of candidates passing the exam (see below for full breakdown).

GPhC to meet low-scoring universities

Commenting on the results, the GPhC said: “The spread of pass rates by schools of pharmacy was particularly wide.

“It is not the board’s role to look into these matters, but it is concerned that variability in a number of different factors between the schools of pharmacy may be impacting on cohort performance in the registration assessment.

“This spread of pass rates by school of pharmacy appears noteworthy and the GPhC may wish to investigate this.”

The regulator will meet with Central Lancashire and Wolverhampton universities, as well as three other pharmacy schools that reported pass rates lower than 65% – excluding the schools offering overseas pharmacists' assessment programmes – “in the next few weeks, to hear their views on the reason for the lower performance”, it said. This includes the University of Brighton, Kingston University and the University of Portsmouth.

The pass rate for this June’s pre-reg exam dropped to 72.3%, the lowest since the GPhC took over responsibility for the assessment in 2011.

Pass rates by ethnicity and sector

Broken down by ethnicity, the pass rate varied from 60.7% for black or black British African students to 91% for white British students.

By sector, the pass rate for community pharmacy fell from 75.5% in 2018 to 68.2% this year, while the pass rate for hospital only dropped by three percentage points to 93.1%.

“Good feedback from students”

Over eight out of 10 pharmacy students at the University of Central Lancashire said they were happy with the quality of their education, the university told C+D.

“Thanks to in-built placements in community and hospital settings and patient interaction from year one, our pharmacy graduates are highly sought-after, with 100% going into professional employment following successful completion of the pre-registration exam,” it added.

Pharmacy school
First-attempt pass rate
Aston University
University of Bath
University of Birmingham
University of Bradford (four-year degree)
University of Bradford (five-year degree)
University of Brighton
Cardiff University
University of Central Lancashire
De Montfort University
University of Durham
University of East Anglia
University of Hertfordshire
University of Huddersfield
Keele University
King's College London
Kingston University
University of Lincoln
Liverpool John Moores University
University of Manchester
Medway School of Pharmacy
University of Nottingham
University of Portsmouth
University of Reading
Robert Gordon University
University of Strathclyde
University of Sunderland
University College London
University of Wolverhampton

Source: GPhC council meeting papers, September 2019

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