Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Pharmacy Recruitment May Be Unhealthy in High Doses

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Pharmacy Recruitment May Be Unhealthy in High Doses

Article excerpt

Lack of enrolment caps could leave many out of work, warns student group. Elizabeth Gibney writes.

An "unsustainable" rise in pharmacy provision in UK universities risks leaving thousands of graduates without jobs, the British Pharmaceutical Students' Association has warned.

The association predicts that the number of students graduating in pharmacy from UK universities will soon outstrip the number of NHS and community pharmacy training positions available - placements that graduates must complete in order to become registered pharmacists.

Not only would this constitute a "ludicrous" waste of resources, it would be "unethical" for universities to offer degrees that lead nowhere, said BPSA president Vikesh Kakad.

"Students spend a huge amount of money on their education and it's not fair," he said.

According to the association, the number of undergraduates studying pharmacy doubled between 1999 and 2009, with growth expected to continue. Next year alone will see the opening of three new schools of pharmacy, at the universities of Birmingham, Durham and Lincoln.

Unlike courses for other healthcare professionals in the UK, recruitment to pharmacy degrees is not subject to controls and universities are under no obligation to find placements for their graduates.

Placements are likely to become more scarce as the Department of Health, which funds the Pounds 18,000-a-year posts, tightens its belt and the jobs market becomes further saturated, claims a BPSA discussion paper, titled "The imbalance between pre-registration training and undergraduate pharmacy student numbers".

But senior management at universities still mistakenly see pharmacy as an area with great potential for growth in student numbers, said John Smart, chairman of the Pharmacy Schools Council.

"If you're a vice-chancellor and you are struggling with tight controls on student numbers and higher fees, you are going to be looking for courses where you can recruit at AAB-level and students are willing to pay Pounds 9,000 a year for four years," he told Times Higher Education. …

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