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GPhC delays plans to boost black students' exam performance

The regulator has pushed back a meeting to decide how to improve low pass rates among black African students until later in the year

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has delayed its meeting to tackle low registration exam pass rates among black African students, C+D has learned.

The regulator had originally scheduled a seminar in January to hear the experiences of British students who classed themselves as 'black African', as they had the lowest pass rate of any "statistically significant" ethnic group that took the June 2013 registration exam. The seminar was designed to help the GPhC take action to improve results among this group.

But the GPhC had pushed back this event until later in the year to give it time to complete “further qualitative research” into 2014 exam pass rates, it told C+D yesterday (July 2). The outomce of the research should be available in "late autumn", it said.

In council papers published last year, the GPhC revealed that 55 per cent of black African students had passed the June 2013 registration exam. In comparison, the pass rate was 93 per cent for white British students, 86 per cent for Chinese students, 78 per cent for Indian students and 76 per cent for Pakistani students.

The regulator had contacted the five British schools of pharmacy with the highest proportion of black African students - which it could not disclose for confidentiality reasons - to “identify correlations and common patterns”, it said in the council papers.

The GPhC said at the time that the underperformance of students from this group was a “concern” for all five schools, with one university designing “bespoke support” for non-white students as a result.

The regulator told C+D this week that the reasons for lower pass rates among black African exam candidates included students having taken “non-traditional routes” into higher education. A similar pattern was seen among students from this group “across higher education in the UK”, it added.

What action should the GPhC take to address low pass rates among black African students?

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