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One university had pass rate below 60% in June GPhC pre-reg exam

The lowest pass rate for first-time pre-registration candidates was 61% in 2017
The lowest pass rate for first-time pre-registration candidates was 61% in 2017

The University of Central Lancashire had the lowest first-attempt pass rate in June's registration exam, according to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

The university had a pass rate of 57% – and was the only university where less than 60% of students sitting the exam for the first time passed, according to GPhC papers published for its council meeting last week (September 13).

“Preparing our students for professional practice as pharmacists is of the utmost importance to us,” the university told C+D.

“We will be contacting the GPhC to establish the validity of these results – as they have not yet been officially shared with us,” it added.

GPhC: Exam data is quality-checked

A spokesperson for the GPhC said it does not share any performance data with any groups – including the schools of pharmacy – before the report on the assessment goes to council.

However, each school of pharmacy is sent a report with a more detailed breakdown of performance after both exam sittings, the regulator explained.

The GPhC runs several quality checks to ensure the accuracy of its data, and has been in touch with the University of Central Lancashire to assure it of the validity of the pre-reg exam results, it added.

Success “down to many factors”

University College London (UCL) had the highest pass rate, with 94% of its candidates passing the exam (see below for a full breakdown).

“Over the last five years we have significantly strengthened our clinical teaching team and have revised the course to greatly increase professional, clinical and numeracy skills, while also enhancing scientific and research skills,” a spokesperson for UCL said.

The university also provides its graduates with online materials, and face-to-face weekend study days throughout their pre-registration period, it added.

However, it stressed that its pre-reg assessment success “is down to many factors” – including students' personal commitment and pre-reg training – and added, “our contribution is by no means the only consideration leading to this positive outcome”.

The GPhC announced in July that the overall pass rate was 79%, one percentage point more than in the 2017 exam.

In 2017, the lowest first-attempt pass rate was 61% at Kingston University, which had a 65% pass rate this year.

Pass rates by ethnicity and sector

When broken down according to candidates' ethnicity, the pass rate varied from 66% for black African students, to 93% for white British students.

By pharmacy sector, the pass rate ranged from 76% for community, to 96% for hospital.

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
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 2018

How did you find your registration exam?

Female Tech, Pharmacy technician

Surely it's supposed to be difficult. You wouldn't want every Tom, Dick or Harry passing.

geoffrey gardener, Community pharmacist

Many students are obviously being failed by the system. Is it poor teaching, or devalued entry requirements requirements? Surely after forking out 10s of thousands of pounds to a university, studying for four (or five!!!) years, passing the exam should virtually be a formality. Weak students should be weeded out by the end of the first year.

Saddened Old Timer, Community pharmacist

Also the question needs to be asked whether the tutors signing students off as being appropriate to sit the exam, and if successful, join the register are being totally honest. 

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Perhaps more schools of pharmacy are needed ?!

geoffrey gardener, Community pharmacist

The more the merrier, force wages down and profits up

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Meanwhile, the GPhC will do nothing about the University of Outer Mongolia, Milton Keynes Campus, setting up another pharmacy school.

Interesting that the results are allowed to show that black candidates have no hope, but we live in an extremely PC society where you aren't allowed to say that.

Lambs to the slaughter.

Any chance of Duncan Rudkin sitting the exam?

Joy Wingfield, Manager

These percentages are not really helpful unless you know how many candidates actually sat the exams. If only one sat the exam and passed, that's 100%. The percentages should surely be expressed as per cent out of how many candidates? Or am I missing something?

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

Do you think in practical terms it matters? If it is very low numbers then it is probably an even worse statistic. 

We know its likely to be in the region of 60-150.... either way, I am not sure what it adds to the picture. 

What is significant is the entry criteria for the lowest performing universities and the number of places in clearing. 

David Miller, Hospital pharmacist

Anyone keen to repeat the FOI and clarify the entry criteria and use of clearing accepting the the process of adjustment complicates the issue


Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

The University of Wolverhampton has 66% so I think only 3 candidates sat the exam.

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