Nearly 15% of MPharm students leave the course after the first year in 2020/2021

Data from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) suggests that almost 15% of students dropped out of the first year of the MPharm in the 2020/2021 academic year.

A total of 4,148 new students started the first year of the Pharmacy degree in 2020/2021. The following academic year, 3,544 students entered the second year of the degree, suggesting that 604 (14.6%) of the initial admission had not gone on to pharmacy studies. Figures do not include those who repeat the year for any reason.

The GPhC noted that the data does not include students who may have decided to postpone their second year after successfully completing their first year.

In the 2019/2020 academic year, 3,743 students started the first year of the MPharm and 3,533 started their second year in 2020/2021, indicating that 5.7% either dropped out or changed courses .

The data of the student loan company for England, Wales and Northern Ireland showed that for the 2020/2021 academic year, overall dropout rates – measured between August and February of the academic year across all years and all courses – had decreased compared to the previous academic year. In 2020/2021, a total of 14,045 people who received student loans dropped out of university courses in these countries: a decrease of 13.8% compared to the 16,300 who left in 2019/2020.

However, as of February 2022, 18,321 people had dropped out in the 2021/2022 academic year, a 30% increase from the previous year..

The 4,148 students who started their MPharm in 2020/2021 represented a 10.8% increase from the 3,743 who embarked on a pharmacy degree the previous year. This is the second year in a row that MPharm’s intake has increased by more than 10%.

Pharmacists were added to the Home Office’s shortage occupations list on March 4, 2021. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which collects evidence when compiling the annual shortages list, has stated that two stakeholders suggested that there was “a national shortage in this profession due to a decline in the number of pharmacy graduates and increased demand for their services”.

A GPhC spokesperson said it had not done any research on the large proportion of students not going on to the second year of their MPharm in 2020/2021.

“We expect a number of factors to influence the increase in the number of people choosing to leave the course during or just after the first year,” they added.

The Schools of Pharmacy Council said it did not wish to comment on the figures.

Read more: Jhere is an official shortage of pharmacists: what now?

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