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Two universities record June pre-reg exam pass rates below 50%

The GPhC will meet with five schools of pharmacy to discuss their low pass-rates
The GPhC will meet with five schools of pharmacy to discuss their low pass-rates

The University of Central Lancashire and the University of Wolverhampton recorded pass rates below 50% in the June pre-reg exam, according to the GPhC.

The pharmacy schools registered first-attempt pass rates of 46.7% and 47.5% respectively – considerably lower than their corresponding pass rates of 56.8% and 65.7% in June 2018 – according to General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) documents published ahead of its council meeting yesterday (September 12).

The University of Central Lancashire told C+D: “While these latest results are disappointing, we have made recent investments into our pharmacy provision in terms of staffing and resources, so we’re confident that attainment levels will improve in the future,” (see more of the University’s response below).

A spokesperson for the University of Wolverhampton said: “The university is disappointed with the registration assessment pass rates.

“How we prepare our students for entry to the pre-registration training year is always under constant review and we are working closely with the GPhC in this regard.”

For the second year in a row, University College London reported the highest first-attempt pass rate, with 92.8% of candidates passing the exam (see below for full breakdown).

GPhC to meet low-scoring universities

Commenting on the results, the GPhC said: “The spread of pass rates by schools of pharmacy was particularly wide.

“It is not the board’s role to look into these matters, but it is concerned that variability in a number of different factors between the schools of pharmacy may be impacting on cohort performance in the registration assessment.

“This spread of pass rates by school of pharmacy appears noteworthy and the GPhC may wish to investigate this.”

The regulator will meet with Central Lancashire and Wolverhampton universities, as well as three other pharmacy schools that reported pass rates lower than 65% – excluding the schools offering overseas pharmacists' assessment programmes – “in the next few weeks, to hear their views on the reason for the lower performance”, it said. This includes the University of Brighton, Kingston University and the University of Portsmouth.

The pass rate for this June’s pre-reg exam dropped to 72.3%, the lowest since the GPhC took over responsibility for the assessment in 2011.

Pass rates by ethnicity and sector

Broken down by ethnicity, the pass rate varied from 60.7% for black or black British African students to 91% for white British students.

By sector, the pass rate for community pharmacy fell from 75.5% in 2018 to 68.2% this year, while the pass rate for hospital only dropped by three percentage points to 93.1%.

“Good feedback from students”

Over eight out of 10 pharmacy students at the University of Central Lancashire said they were happy with the quality of their education, the university told C+D.

“Thanks to in-built placements in community and hospital settings and patient interaction from year one, our pharmacy graduates are highly sought-after, with 100% going into professional employment following successful completion of the pre-registration exam,” it added.

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
University of Lincoln
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 2019

How did you find the June pre-reg exam?

rogalio sabastian, Marketing

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AJ Smith, Locum pharmacist

These results being published will be a wake up call for prospective students and certain universities 

Charles Beadle, Locum pharmacist

They should relegate Wolves from the premier league to the championship. Come on you Baggies!

JR Hartley, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Angela, you sound like you need a drink, and possibly like you need to widen your horizons a little , and to stop living in the past. I suggest you go on a pub crawl?

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Shouldn't you be looking for a book? I always found that ad ridiculous. Who on earth would write a book and then not keep a copy themselves!!?  ;) 

Newly Qualified Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

I am one of those 47% from wolverhampton that passed. I would like to clear up some misunderstandings.

Wolverhampton has some of the best teachers in the country that could easily run any pharmacy department anywhere.

The management really needs to let them teach. We were given 100 page documents every other week to take home and study on our own, and were hardly taught at all. Our lecturers had to fight management to give us tutorials. We begged for more teaching all four years, but we were given stupid excuses like not enough hours left on their teaching schedule or we don't need to be ''spoon-fed'' and uni is about self study.

I am lucky to have made it in such conditions, but a lot of my friends weren't so lucky. It could have just as easily gone the other way for me and it wouldn't be fair, because all of us at Wolves were virtually self-taught, despite the pure talent of the lecturers, which is a shame. This was only transpired by the fact that some of my really clever peers did not pass.

To conclude, the management used us as guinea pigs for the new style (TBL) course, plus completely went the wrong way with it. It was like learning a new language and the attitude towards us from some of them was beyond poor as they continuously ignored the feedback we gave them.

Thank you for reading.

nawaz mohamed, Locum pharmacist

Wolves University needs reporting to Gphc for such shameful practice

anti-depressed Pharmacist, Manager

As I said before it's all business. The Universities don't care if you pass or fail as long as you pay up that £9000. The money for their inflated salary has to come from somewhere.

Very disgusting that you can string along a student for 4/5 years (some students even having to retake an exam every year)  that you know is not good enough. 

Eveything is money money money. We have an oversupply of Pharmacists anyway so these useless Universities should close.

And they want to extend the study for another year, what are you going to teach them in 5 years that you cant teach in 4? or are you just salivating  at the extra £9000 you will receive.



Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

It's quite simple, Wolves will probably let you in with CCC, do you think UCL will be in Clearing and will accept CCC? Of course not.  Don't know much about UClan but I would imagine it's the same. We are getting students who 30 yrs ago when I applied would have had their UCCA form as it was then tossed in the bin. I am amazed at the calibre of some of these students, I actually worry for the future of the community 'profession' if we are letting little robots, for that is what they are. They have no common sense, no pragmatism, no idea of how to bend a law or rule to help a patient. Everything is by the book, and then they wonder why they get complaints. I also find them very unworldly with poor social skills , some are unable to even make general conversation, as they have no life or life experience. They live at home,they go to Uni, they come home and study, they don't socialise, they can't obviously if you're a little muslim girl go on a pub crawl ( do they still do those or is it all Kale smoothies now!!)  So that's just my opinion, they are bland with no personality and and have done nothing in life apart from have their head in a text book. Even if they were widely read in other literature like the classics and could discuss those, that would be better than nothing. Dare I even say this, but I actually don't watch it, but i am so glad if one of them says, " so, did you see Love Island last night?"  Of course I didn't but at least they are watching young people socialise and mix and match even if they aren't/can't/won't/aren't allowed to do it themselves. I agree with the poster above/below, some of these new schools need serious attention by the GPhC, and be put in 'special measures' like normal schools, then closed down. There are too many, and too many rubbish ones, simply used as cash cows for the Unis. They just want bums on seats and that lovely 37k please! But mainly I am a cynical bitter, twisted old cow?!  Lol, as my nieces would say!  

Mohammed Faisal Chowdhury, Hospital pharmacist

I beg to differ with your opinion. Yes some pre-regs are shy but why did you specifically target Muslim girls. Some of the youngsters are shy but then it is upto us within their pre-reg years to raise their confidence so that they are able to probe patients and hold meaningful conversation. If they cannot perform to a professional level then they shouldnot be signed. The job of the uni is to give them knowledge and role of the pre-reg year is to enable them to put that knowledge into practise. There is nothing wrong in staying at home and studying, in fact it is a clever way of avoiding unnecessary debts in this inflated economy, with regards to socialising at uni whilst being at home, it is not a barrier but if 'Love Island' is an example of how you think youngster should be socialising then i personally do not promote promiscuity. You have said that your neices have branded you as bitter, after reading your comment i do believe there might be some truth in that. If you are outspoken as you say you are then help the profession by getting these shy students out of their shells. I only hope that you can only broaden your thinking rather than blame the students. All students have the ability to pass if given the right support, stop using them as spare pair of hands and provide them with quality support in their pre-reg years and then see the results. Over the years the emphasis of the exam has moved on from being community based to clinical knowledge, give the community pre-regs a chance to utilise their clinical knowledge during their training and then see the results. The difference that in the training that both sectors provide is evident in the result published.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Regarding some of your points, I just picked Love Island as I read it was the most watched programme this summer by the 18-25 yr old group. It is not something I personally watch. I think getting away from home and learning to look after yourself is a very good thing to do and I did it, but that was in the days of no fees, and I even got a grant! But I agree these days saving money is an important factor, but I always feel home students are missing out a little.  I would love to spend more time with students and I do my very best to involve them. (I have never done NHS hospital so I can only base my observation on community), but I am sure many will agree with me in saying that these days students replace staff on holidays and are expected to do a job that they do not know, where as 10 to 15 yrs ago they were additional and were there to observe and learn for example , help the counter assistant, these days they ARE that person alone sadly due to staff cut backs. I also don't blame students at all . I blame universities for taking on students who are not academically capable or do not have sufficent personality to function in a community pharmacy as the RP, otherwise known yrs ago as PIC, or Pharmacist In Charge. And this is where I think some of them do not have the ability to manage or be 'in charge' . They have poor decision making skills and some are unable to manage a team and assign tasks. I know it is difficult these days, but all Unis have teacher practitioners who should feed back to the Uni how the situation is.   Like I have said before I often turn to my ladies when, for example a student goes to lunch, And ask can you see them standing here where I am with my 'checking pen' in X yrs, and the answer is usually No, and this could be a 6ft tall lad who was Captain of the rugby team or a muslim girl, (and Like I said being inner city, multi-cultural area, with many Unis close, these are mainly the students I see, I don't like the thinly veiled criticism that is somehow pushing that I am racist.) As I said from the demographics which speak for themselves, pharmacy, like medicine and other professions is becoming asian dominated. For example, my Dr, Dentist, Pharmacist and optician are all asian, I don't give two hoots, as long as they are capable of doing the job. The discussion we are having here is that some of them aren't. I am of the mind the Unis want money from fees, and take people that 30 yrs ago would never have been admitted because they either did not have a sufficient personality to be able to deal with patients, and remember, sometimes in community very difficult patients, OR, they do not posess the sufficient academic ability to get through a degree and pass an exam after 4 years of study and a year of on the job training, combined hopefully with study at home. I was reading on the student room site that one person was on her 6th year of a 4 yr course and had failed again and having to repeat the year so it would take her 7 yrs to pass a 4 year degree. I'm sorry people, but back in the day, that never happened. Yes I am old. And I know things change, but as the example I have just given, surely no-one can argue that that student should be there in the first place, it is obviously beyond them. This of course takes us right back to the 'everyone must win a prize' which probably started nearly 25 yrs ago under Tony Blair and all his equality and diversity, which I'm not going to go into now.  The bottom line is, the pass rate is bad at some Unis because they shouldn't be on the course in the first place and forgive me for being like the TV show 'Grumpy old women' cynical, bitter and twisted, 'and it was all different in my day, and better too' but that is how I see it, and I'm sure many others, 'of a certain age' would agree. 



Snake Plissken, Student

So I'm interested in knwing why "big, cynical, bitter, twisted old cow" Angela feels a "little" muslim girl going on a pub crawl is amazingly going to get a life??

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

To socialise. There are soft drinks you know. 

Snake Plissken, Student

Yes it’s a shame that in your world view going on a pub crawl and watching love island will get a “little Muslim girl” a life and socialising skills. I’m going to try and avoid being judgemental as much as I can as I can’t find the time to write essays on here unless that is was another way of socialising I was unaware off. 

nawaz mohamed, Locum pharmacist

A mixture of bitterness and stereotyping there. Hope you find peace, Angela.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Nope and nope.  As Roy Walker would say, " say what you see, if you see it, say it!"  And I'm very peaceful thank you for asking.   I've had this discussion in several pharmacies and the point raised again and again by the mostly female staff is, who i presume chat to the students over their placement, is they don't go out, they don't socialise, they don't do anything, their social skills are poor, they have difficulty dealing with the public, or following simple instructions, and this extends to MOST of the students we get these days not just muslim girls. CALIBRE was the word one of my pharmacist colleagues coming up to retirement used.  I'll give you an example, i have to train them to answer the phone, no student wants to touch it, what is it, The Bat Phone?!?  I said, you say, Good..AM/PM  .., Bloggs Pharmacy... how may i help you?   And then i tell them that they listen, remember the patient's name and pass the phone onto the next available colleague. Should we really be teaching an over 18 yr old how to pick up a phone?!  NO! As someone commented on another thread, the C and D A level grade rubbish ones, which I thought a little harsh, but I could kind of see what he meant when he was referring to some of his peers who were sitting there with CCC through Clearing while he had sweated his xxxxxx off he said! Whatever those were!!?? to get his AAB. Now in my day you would not be sitting there with CCC. Maybe in one of the Polys if you were lucky but not a Russell Group like I went to. 

I'll give you another example. A THIRD year female student. I won't upset anyone by going into demographics. Who has done placements before came into the dispensary from the counter to say the man age 60 was asking if he had to pay! Not a first year student on her first day , a THIRD year student. No initiative to tell him the correct answer that she knows very well. No confidence in their own ability. In my day, this girl would be on her pre-reg now and be expected to take charge of a pharmacy this time next year. When she went to lunch I asked my 3 ladies, can you see that girl standing where I am now in less than two yrs time checking this mountain of ice cream tubs off and I received a resounding 3 No's ! And a 'God help us' !

And where are all the boys? We have been having pharmacy students for just about over a decade ( as cheap holiday cover) and I can't recall a male for well over half a decade.  Where are they all? Don't they want to be stressed to the max for a starting salary that I was earning nearly 25 yrs ago?  I think i found the answer though, i worked with a very nice asian gentleman relief dispenser, in an independent, which makes a change, you don't get many male dispensers, and I asked him and he said one word: Money!  He said no pharmacy now, no, all doing medicine, optics, dentistry. Much better money. and it is. I found out the other day, I don't know how true it is but someone told me a locum optician earns about £450 a day! Is that right?! If only I had understood lenses better in A level Physics!! 

Not surprised to see the likes of Kingston and Brighton near the bottom. 20 years ago when I was applying for university I knew they were letting students in with CCC grades (maybe even with less).

I also think pre-reg tutors in community need to be given allocated time to spend with students. This should be mandatory (in the pre-reg employment contract) otherwise the pharmacy should not be allowed to take on a pre-reg. I've tutored 2 students in my career, and have refused to in the past if I didn't think I had the time to give them. Unfortunately some employers see it as free labour and the branch managers (pre reg tutors) are too scared to refuse.

I always advise students to do their pre-reg in hospital if they can find a place.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Thirty odd years ago, I had to resit my A levels (I only got a d in chemistry and failed maths because I was bone idle at the time and thought I could wing it the same as o levels (A in biology though!!)). So, only one and a half A levels. I got an unconditional offer at Brighton poly, so very little has changed (I eventually got in at Cardiff)

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

If any pharmacist only checked there prescriptions with a 50% accuracy they be  in front of gphc quicker than you think and struck off why is it not the same for lecturers and pre-Reg tutors and companies where these students studied 

nawaz mohamed, Locum pharmacist


nawaz mohamed, Locum pharmacist

Poor quality universities/courses taking on less than able students, and you get low pass rates. That's what happens when universities try to cash in and you get the floodgates open to 'anyone' embarking on a tough course. We have an oversupply and quality control issue, as exemplified by the lowest passmarks in recent history. Time to shut down some pharmacy courses PRONTO

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Totally agree, letting people in with CCC or even CCD is NOT a good idea! They will struggle and if they don't work hard they will fail the first year, and I think a lot of kids are spoon fed at A level and basically told what to write. In the 80s, we were told if we could include something topical that was happening in the real world to show we had read a journal or New Scientist article or in my case my third was Economics, so if interest rates had gone up last week, and that was one of the questions get it in your answer to show you read the Broad sheets and The Economist and know how your study relates to the real world and you get extra marks. Apparently not anymore!!  I tell pharmacy students, read a news app every day for headlines on anything happening in healthcare, for example the irbesartan recall was on the Daily Mail app BEFORE we had the MHRA letter after lunch!! 

Alasdair Morrison, Product Development

Oh, you consider the Daily Mail app to be a reliable source of information, at 2 o'clock in the morning?

Quelle surprise. 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

At least the Mail reported on it. Your Guardian would have been too busy reporting namby-pamby rubbish.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

The point is WHY is it there, before the professionals have been informed. Back on the actual day, it was on the Daily Mail app (and other new outlets) before we received the official letter from the MHRA at lunchtime. (the time I am typing this is irrelevant as I'm sure you are aware this happened back in January). And in general, they have a Health section which sometimes has useful articles, and the App is intended for an international audience, there is alot of USA and Australian stuff. It is not like the right wing newspaper. And your 'dripping with sarcasm' quote only belittles yourself.  I'm sure you must favour the 'Begging for money at the bottom of every article to keep going' Guardian. 


N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

So, the whole responsibility of the Pre-Reg passing the exam lies on the Unies??

What about the Pharmacies who hired an extra hand PAID by the Govt.? Are they not responsible in any way? Do we apply the same rule and shut the Pharmacies or at least their pre-reg placement, where the students have failed the exam?

In my opinion the responsibility has to be shared by all involved including the students.

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

If they can’t pass the pre-reg how is one given a Mpharm.

The universities are awarding them with an mpharm degree.they have a lot to play in this.they are saying that the student has passed all exams at a satisfactory level and feel they have the knowledge to be a qualified pharmacist, or do they.

The pre reg catches out all the thick student who’s got low a-levels,and unis only take these students on because they are worth 37k a year or maybe more.


Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

The Unis have them for FOUR years. The pre-reg tutor has them for ONE !

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Quite right. The tutor cannot turn a pigs ear into a silk purse in a single year. All they should be doing is refining the already prepped student into the finished product ready for release.

anti-depressed Pharmacist, Manager

The same 2 universities are getting  90% pass rates even after the exam has been changed multiple times. So yes the responsibility should be held entirely on the schools as they picked the students and gave them degrees saying they understood the subject. 

When I keep seeing bath and UCL with 90% pass rate year after year but Wolverhampton below 50% do you know what that tells me? It tells me that a 1st at Bath is not equal to a 1st at Wolverhampton AND THAT IS A BIG PROBLEM. if we don't have the same standards in all Universities then it will cause distrust. It is clear now that some schools are passing failing students to cash in and keep their student pass rate high. They need to be closed we have too many schools anyway.


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