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GPhC sets its sights on three more underperforming universities

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GPhC sets its sights on three more underperforming universities

The GPhC has said it will be watching closely how students from three schools of pharmacy fare in their November registration assessment as it seeks to tackle “concerningly low” pass rates for some course providers. 

In its report on the June 2023 registration assessment, published this week ahead of a council meeting this Thursday, the regulator said there is “cause for concern” around the pass rates for students from the universities of Hertfordshire, Lincoln and Portsmouth.

Students from these institutions who sat the assessment for the first time this June achieved average pass rates of 60 per cent, 50 per cent and 58 per cent respectively, compared to an average pass rate of 76.6 per cent across all 2,805 candidates who sat it.

“We will evaluate their graduates’ performance in the November sitting and then take further access to address this,” said the GPhC. The autumn assessment, which typically has a higher proportion of candidates who are resitting the exam, has tended to produce lower pass rates than the summer exam.

This follows engagement by the regulator since June 2022 with another three pharmacy schools, including the one at the University of Wolverhampton, where it identified concerns around persistently low pass rates. “All three have been subject to reaccreditation,” said the regulator. 

The GPhC went on to say that while it currently offers a “snapshot after each sitting,” it plans to “develop this to produce a more comprehensive report and analysis which details trends over a period of time from sitting to sitting”.

“This will provide a more useful way of identifying whether the interventions we are making are having the desired effect and whether differences in pass rate are part of a more systemic issue.”

The report noted that ongoing concerns around a “disparity with pass rates based on age, ethnicity and the sector in which training is carried out,” explaining that the regulator’s new standards require education providers to “provide a breakdown of performance annually based on protected characteristics, with documented action to address differences”. 

Overall, the GPhC identified “no significant operational concerns” arising from the June assessment, although five allegations were reported of which one was admitted by the candidate and two upheld following a hearing.

The regulator added that there are an increasing number of reasonable adjustment requests “to accommodate specific learning needs,” and that while the majority of these requests were met there is a need to review the “operational challenges” this may present in future.

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