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BPSA concerned pharmacy courses ‘at risk’ after Sussex degree closure

The University of Sussex pharmacy degree course had a maximum capacity of 50 students a year
The University of Sussex pharmacy degree course had a maximum capacity of 50 students a year

The British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) is concerned other courses are “at risk” following the University of Sussex's decision to close its degree.

The university announced last Friday (December 14) that it will not take new students onto its pharmacy degree from September 2019, due to low uptake.

It launched a consultation with students and staff in October, after low student recruitment to the course for the third year in a row.

Responding to the closure today, the BPSA told C+D it is “concerned that the downturn in the number of applicants may lead other courses to be at risk”.

“We recognise that reports have shown that student numbers are lower than anticipated in some schools,” the BPSA said. It hopes to “be consulted prior to any considerations of closures”, but stressed it is not aware of any other universities considering the same move.

The number of pharmacy students fell 4.5% between 2013-14 and 2016-17, from 14,599 to 13,940, according to the most recent published GPhC figures from two cohorts ago. 

The BPSA has written to the University of Sussex requesting that students already on its pharmacy course are “treated fairly” and their education safeguarded, it said. The university said all current students will be able to complete their degrees.

Students “distraught” about closure

The director of pharmacy at the University of Sussex, Bugewa Apampa, told C+D the course was closing because it had not recruited its maximum capacity of 50 students a year.

The university had accepted 30 students a year on average since its first intake in September 2016, “which is aligned with empirical evidence showing that universities working towards full accreditation recruit fewer students than established ones”.

In November, Professor Apampa suggested one reason for the low numbers on the course was that the degree had not yet been accredited by the GPhC, though it is on track to be by July 2020.

The university said the GPhC has sent “written assurances to students that they will work with the university on the accreditation process for the MPharm course”, despite its closure.

Professor Apampa told C+D she had “advanced plans” to boost recruitment, and that staff and students, as well as pharmacists and parents, had been “positive and in support of retaining” the course.

Some students had been “distraught” about the closure and felt “mental anguish and distress” that they would graduate without an accredited degree, Professor Apampa said.

Sussex: We want courses students want to study

The University of Sussex’s pro vice chancellor of planning and resources, Professor Stephen Shute, said: “We want to ensure that any courses that we offer now and in the future are in line with what students actually want to study.”

“We believe it is in the university’s long-term interest to continue to focus our energies on our strengths.”

Why are the numbers of students studying pharmacy falling?

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

All too little too late. But schools of pharmacy and multiples all cashing in already.

How High?, Community pharmacist

Good news!

As well as an oversupply of pharmacists, due to the under achievers gaining entry, many of them seem to lack the necessary skills to even tackle their pre-reg year and the lack of actual pharmacy and biochemical/pharmacological knowledge upon graduation is astounding. I can't figure out what they actually study for 4 years to be so ill equipped for the work place when they graduate.

As for schools beginning to close? well that's rather good news. I'm sick of being told I'm a professional with all the responsibilities on one hand and having to work a 45 hour with no breaks to support my family and make ends meet due to the continued low pay being offered.

I'm glad I talked my kids out of it. In their 20's both with cool jobs, already finished for christmas, both earning way more than their old dad and both still incredulous at the conditions we work in, the lack of support from our regulator in setting minimum safe staffing levels etc, the pay and the responsibility.......

Merry Christmas all.........


The issue is also these universities are running desperate for pharmacy students and thus letting just about anyone in! Just have read around and you'll so countless stories of people with A-levels such as CCC getting in pharmacy schools! it's farcical. And these same incompetent students are later complaining about the pre-reg exams being too hard. Pharmacy needs to have a strict entry requirements and it must not allow people choosing it as a backup option on their UCAS application just in case they do not get in medical/dental school. Someone explain to me how can pharmacy schools believe a person wants to be a pharmacist if they simultaneously applied to medical school? What I am saying, of course they just want to student's cash so they don't give a damn.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

I'm not too sure about some of this; there's nothing wrong with getting 3 C's as such at A-Level if they have the right aptitude and willingness to learn.....I know of lots of students who achieved A's and B's; failed to get into medical/dental school so did pharmacy.....they have proved to be useless!


Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

I agree with the point pharmacy shouldn't be a back up....

Aldosterone antagonist, Locum pharmacist

Fully agree with you; more needs to be looked at relating to entry requirements.

The song by Jessie J that goes: 'it's all about the money money money....' rings a bell here!

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

They should ban all these 'affiliated ' pharmacy schools abroad as well....accept foreign students; yes - but the UK courses should be based in the UK

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

Its long overdue. And quite a few others should close too. It has contributed to the current over supply which has seen remuneration plummet and large companies ruthlessly exploit pharmacist employees. Also students are canny. They see through work experience what the job is like , the depressingly low wages for so much study and decide to try other things. I wouldn't entertain pharmacy as a profession if I were a youngster. Far better and more rewarding to do medicine rather than put up with being a third rate GP on the cheap doing all those numpty services.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

Totally agree....far to many course and hence far to many's about time!

Why anyone would choose pharmacy, in the numbers they are, astounds me.....

Why anyone is concerned about this is beyond me; surely this is a good thing for current students and pharmacists alike?

Why anyone would chose phar


Bugewa Apampa, Academic pharmacist

All pharmacy staff at Sussex remain focused on delivering high quality education in accordance with GPhC standards, thereby mitigating the risk of students graduating with an MPharm that is not fully accredited by the pharmacy regulator.

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

Isn't there another, older, school of pharmacy just down the road?

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

Indeed--What was the reason for allowing accreditation of such a course when there was a very well established school at Brighton ?

Totally agree that we need both reduction of 'unrequired 'schools as well as numbers of students to maintan the viability of the profession.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist making scam by the universities - shouldn't be allowed......

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