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.
“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.