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Urgent debate called for on imbalance between undergraduate and prereg places

By News team

Pharmacy students may face severe problems completing their professional training unless there is in an increase in the number of available preregistration training places, according to the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association.

The student body has drawn up a discussion paper to encourage stakeholders to debate the issue "as a matter of urgency".

The problem stems from an increase in the number of pharmacy schools from 12 to 21 and a rapid rise in the number of students applying to study pharmacy — which has shot up by 40 per cent in just four years, the BPSA says.

Pharmacy undergraduate places are rising in number because universities escape cuts in Government funding if they recruit high-achieving A level students. The places are attractive to school leavers, who see pharmacy as a high-earning career that can enable them to clear their student debts after graduation.

Other factors are also putting increased pressure on preregistration places which, under the current system, are not fixed by the Government — numbers are totally at the mercy of community pharmacy employers or funding available in the NHS, the BPSA points out. NHS spending cuts and a reduction in band 6 vacancies also have a part of play, the association says.

BPSA president Vikesh Kakad told PJ Online: "After four years of investing time and money, it would be highly unfair for students if they have no prospect of entering the workforce for which they were trained.

"A successful resolution to this problem can only be sought through co-ordinated negotiations between higher education institutes, the Department of Health, employers and pharmacy students."

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11104272

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