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Pharmacy schools ‘as flexible as possible’ after A-levels turmoil

PhSC said universities had already “accommodated near-miss offers” before the governments’ U-turn

Universities are being “as flexible as possible” in helping pharmacy students secure a place following the A-levels algorithm controversy, the Pharmacy Schools Council has said.

After A-level exams were cancelled across the UK due to COVID-19, students' grades were calculates using similar algorithms across the four UK countries.

Across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, grades were found to in many cases have been lower than teachers had predicted, resulting in some students missing out on their first-choice of university.

However, “most universities responded to this quickly by accepting firm offer holders who missed the conditions of their offer by one or two grades”, the Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) told C+D last week (August 26).

When the governments across the four UK nations subsequently made U-turns, deciding students should be awarded the grades predicted by their teachers, rather than those previously calculated by algorithms, most near-miss offer holders had "already been accommodated”, the PhSC claimed.

“However, restrictions on campus capacity and accommodation provision have been challenging at some universities and some students have been offered deferred entry where numbers have exceeded limits,” it added.

“Universities are being as flexible as possible with all offer holders, to support them in securing a place,” PhSC said.

Government U-turns

The Scottish government was the first to announce that pupils would receive grades based solely on their teachers’ estimates on August 11 – except in cases where the previously calculated grade was higher. On August 17, Wales, Northern Ireland and England announced that they had made the same decision.

Following this decision, Kingston University in London is accepting all students, including pharmacy students, who “now meet the terms of their original offer”.

“We completely understand this is a difficult time for our applicants, their families and their supporters.

"All applicants holding an unconditional offer from us can rest assured their place is confirmed and we are very much looking forward to them becoming part of our Kingston University community,” a spokesperson for the university told C+D last week (August 26).

“Any applicants holding conditional offers are urged to send us evidence of their grades as quickly as possible,” they added.

A Cardiff University spokesperson told C+D last week (August 26) that the university has decided to offer places to applicants who selected it “as their ‘firm’ choice, and those who selected us as their ‘insurance’ choice [and]…who meet the conditions of their offer by August 31”.

“We would urge any prospective pharmacy student with a concern about their place to contact the university to discuss their individual case,” the spokesperson added.

4 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of Pharmacy Schools Council's statement?

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

They need the money from the hapless students no doubt. But standards are rising year on year. On reflection I'd rather send my children to fight a  war than waste 4/5 years of the life to becoming an automaton for Boots and their cohorts.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

I understand that with deferrals and much reduced intake of overseas students due to the ongoing pandemic that some Unis are struggling to fill courses and consequently are considerably lowering the bar to entry via clearing. 

One contributor to a pharmacy student forum recently reported of offers of DDD/DDE being given for a foundation course (1 year) leading into the Pharmacy course. Eye opening if correct. 

Not-So-Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Eye bloody WATERING you mean. That's a shocker. I wonder if the degree course pass mark will be correspondingly lowered otherwise what's the point of allowing inept students to study pharmacy for four years......unless the tuition fees are a factor......

Not-So-Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Of course they are being flexible - heaven forbid there should be any interruption to the bottomless pit of pharmacists qualifying. That might result in pay rises ffs!

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