A university is considering opening a pharmacy school in response to the government's rejection of a student numbers cap, C+D has learned.
The government's decision to reject the sector's call for a cap on student numbers gave universities the opportunity to explore the "feasibility" of expanding their pharmacy intake or opening their own school, Plymouth University told C+D on Wednesday (November 26).
The university, which already trains doctors, dentists, physiotherapists and podiatrists, said it was examining the possible financial model for its own pharmacy school. It would also need to assess the opportunities for clinical practice placements before it made its decision, it added.
The university was highlighted in parliament by all-party pharmacy group vice-chair, Conservative MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, Oliver Colvile, who highlighted the effects of rejecting the cap.
Mr Colvile asked health minister Daniel Poulter whether the university's Peninsula Medical School should "press ahead" with setting up facilities to train pharmacists in light of the government's verdict, in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday (November 25).
Mr Poulter MP responded that there was "ample scope" for Plymouth University to expand its training of healthcare professionals. The university's Peninsula Medical School was becoming an "outstanding medical and healthcare training facility", and Mr Poulter had visited the institution to observe its "excellent work" in training medical and dental students, he said.
In its consultation on student numbers published last month, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) noted that, although the "majority" of respondents favoured some form of cap, research-intensive universities were in favour of allowing the market continue to determine outcomes.
Last month, C+D readers labelled the government's rejection of the cap "a joke".
Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin told C+D last week that the government was right not to enforce a cap, because the oversupply of pharmacists would correct itself as pharmacists moved abroad.