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MPharm courses accepting ‘lower A-level grades’ says ‘concerned’ GPhC

Pharmacy News

MPharm courses accepting ‘lower A-level grades’ says ‘concerned’ GPhC

The GPhC has said it is ‘addressing’ concerns that some MPharm courses are accepting “students with significantly lower A-level grades”.

In papers published ahead of yesterday’s (February 23) council meeting, the regulator reported on its November 2022 registration assessment sitting – in which the pass rate was 56.03 per cent – and discussed its approach to “taking action where the pass rate by university is at a consistently lower level”.

The GPhC said: “Our accreditation approach had previously identified concerns relating to the admission of students with significantly lower A-level grades and the standard of assessments throughout the course of a degree.

“This is now being addressed through requirements for universities to put in place detailed action plans with more frequent regulatory follow-up actions, including targeted accreditation visits and further consideration of powers to impose conditions or recommendations." 

It added that its new standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists, which were published in January 2021, form another element of its effort to boost pass rates.  

Pharmacy Network News has requested more information from the GPhC on the expectations it will place on universities with regard to running their courses and addressing the admission of students with “lower A-level grades”.

The report shows that the top three average pass rates by university were University of Sunderland (80 per cent), University College London (78.95 per cent) and King’s College London (76 per cent), with the lowest three pass rates seen in University of Portsmouth (33 per cent), University of Reading (44 per cent) and University of Wolverhampton (44 per cent).

Autumn registration assessments typically have significantly lower pass rates than summer sittings. There was a pass rate of 80 per cent in the June 2022 assessment.

“Our intention is to ensure that appropriate support or interventions are in place at key points throughout the student’s time at university and in the Foundation Training year and well before they reach the point of the registration assessment,” said the regulator.

The GPhC’s assessment report for November states that there were “no significant issues” due to measures being put in place after the chaotic June 2022 sitting. These measures included: only using permanent test centres; having GPhC representatives present at all sittings; “enhanced training for invigilators” and carrying out “additional IT checks” prior to exams. 

The meeting papers for this week state that the regulator is “also considering the longer-term nature of our approach to assessment, recognising the changes to initial education and training standards, including independent prescribing, and feedback from candidates and stakeholders about the current timing and content of the registration assessment”.

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