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GPhC ‘carefully considering’ students’ ideas on overseas March exam

The 69 international exam candidates will receive “a detailed response in the coming days”
The 69 international exam candidates will receive “a detailed response in the coming days”

The GPhC is “carefully considering” the points that overseas candidates made following its decision last week to cancel the March registration exam for some students.

C+D reported last week (February 3) that some candidates currently living in countries with a five hour or more time difference to the UK were sent an exam cancellation notice by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

The email said that these students could not sit the exam at a test centre in their home country “due to the time difference”, which means they would not be able to sit the assessment at the same time as their UK colleagues and the content of the assessment could be “shared, inadvertently or otherwise”.

The same 69 candidates affected by the GPhC decision had previously been told by the regulator that they could sit the March registration assessment in their home country.

Many overseas students approached C+D to flag their concerns and suggest some ideas that would allow them to sit the registration exam in their own countries.

These included sitting the registration assessment at a local test centre at the same time as UK candidates and bearing eventual “extra costs” should the invigilators need to work overtime to compensate for the time difference.

During a GPhC council meeting today (February 11), director of education and standards Mark Voce said the GPhC is “working to identify any possible flexibility for the affected overseas candidates in +5hr time zones”.

A GPhC spokesperson told C+D yesterday that the regulator will release “a detailed response in the coming days” with the candidates affected by the exam cancellation.

RPS “astounded”

Following C+D’s coverage of the cancellation of the registration exam for 69 students, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) wrote to the GPhC earlier this week (February 9).

It said it was “astounded that trainees have been given six weeks’ notice of this change and are unclear how the inability of the chosen provider to deliver a synchronised assessment overseas was not identified during the procurement process in 2020”.

The RPS asked the GPhC to “urgently reconsider its position” and ensure that international candidates “are not discriminated against and are provided equal opportunities to UK-based trainees”.

The regulator announced in March last year that it had decided to postpone the 2020 registration assessment due to COVID-19. In May, it told C+D that the pandemic had accelerated existing plans to move to an online registration assessment.

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