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The highest and 'deeply concerning' July registration exam pass rates by university

Candidates studying in certain pharmacy schools “performed significantly less well than others” at the July 2021 exam sittings, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.

In papers released prior to its council meeting today (November 11), the regulator said that the “markedly” lower pass rate for students in certain institutions was “deeply concerning”.

Though there are “a number of factors that influence whether individual candidates pass the assessment”, the council papers noted that, in some cases, similar issues had been “highlighted at earlier accreditation events”.

The GPhC said it had arranged initial meetings with institutions displaying concerning pass rates, but it “will be taking forward additional, targeted accreditation visits to assess the need for further conditions or recommendations”.

GPhC council members asked “a range of questions about candidate performance” during the meeting, the regulator tweeted.


Lowest and highest pass rates


The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) recorded the lowest pass rate among MPharm students, according to data included in the meeting papers, with just over half (53.2%) of its 62 students successfully passing the registration assessment.

Sixty-four per cent of the University of Lincoln’s 25 MPharm students passed their assessments, while 64.6% of University of Wolverhampton’s pharmacy cohort passed. The University of Portsmouth followed with a 67.1% pass rate.  

A spokesperson for the University of Portsmouth told C+D today that it is “committed to putting every measure possible in place to improve the outcomes for our students” after reviewing current pass rates.

“We are and will always be committed to widening participation, to ensure pharmacy as a career remains open to as wide a cross-section of our population as possible,” they said.

C+D has also contacted UCLan, and the universities of Lincoln and Wolverhampton for comment.

The University of Birmingham recorded the highest pass rate in the July 2021 cohort, at 98.1%. It was followed by the Medway School of Pharmacy (universities of Greenwich and Kent), which recorded a pass rate of 93.5%.




An “atypical” cohort


Registration assessment sittings in 2020 were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GPhC had planned for three exam sessions to take place in 2021 – in March, July and November.

This year’s cohorts were “atypical” due to the deferred exam sittings, according to the council papers, as some candidates were able to train “for significantly longer than usual” while “others had been working as provisionally registered pharmacists”. However, July pass rates were “within the normal range”, the regulator said.



Continued “disparity in performance by ethnicity”


The GPhC also noted that students continued to perform differently based on their ethnicity, adding that “documented action must be taken to address differences when they are found”.

Pass rates varied over age range as well, with only 60% of candidates who were 36 and over passing their assessment.




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