Doses may vary: wide disparity in pharmacy students’ contact hours

Some pharmacy students are getting less than half as much contact time as their peers at other UK universities, according to new figures.

April 2, 2011

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that teaching hours on four-year pharmacy degrees vary substantially in the UK, with some undergraduates receiving 1,700 hours more than others by the end of their course.

Those at the University of Wolverhampton receive the most: a total of 3,068 hours over four years. The lowest figure is at the University of Bradford, where students are taught for 1,365 hours.

While students at King’s College London and the University of Brighton receive less than 1,380 hours of teaching, future pharmacists at the University of Manchester receive more than 2,000 hours.

The figures were obtained by Chemist+Druggist magazine, which used the FoI Act to request information on lectures, tutorials, laboratory-based lessons and any other teaching that included contact with a member of staff.

The General Pharmaceutical Council “notes” teaching hours, but it does not use them as a quality measure.

Meanwhile, universities with lower contact hours responded to the publication of the figures by arguing that their teaching focus was on quality, not quantity.

A report published earlier this year by the Modernising Pharmacy Careers programme highlighted inconsistency in pharmacy degrees.

It said that undergraduate education had evolved “in a largely piecemeal manner” that failed to provide national consistency for patients or employers.

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