Wolverhampton to appeal loss of validation for pharmacy masters

Royal society withdraws after concerns over leadership and quality. Melanie Newman reports

July 10, 2008

The University of Wolverhampton is appealing against a decision by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) to withdraw accreditation for a master of pharmacy course.

Jeremy Holmes, chief executive of the RPSGB, said the society had raised "serious concerns about MPharm leadership and quality assurance" with the university in October 2007, one year after the course was set up.

After an accreditation visit in March 2008, the society imposed several conditions on the department. "A condition relating to pharmacy leadership remains unresolved, and until this is addressed the RPSGB will be unable to re-engage with the university," Mr Holmes said.

The RPSGB said it had been told that students had raised additional concerns about the standard of teaching and about the standard of the course itself. The society is contacting students through the British Pharmaceutical Students' Association to investigate these claims.

Sally Glen, pro-vice chancellor (academic) at Wolverhampton, said the decision to withdraw accreditation, which was taken on 2 June, related to the number of professors within the pharmacy department.

"Our pharmacy department had a very positive stage-five accreditation visit from the RPSGB," she said. "There were eight conditions that had to be met to stay in the accreditation process. We were successful in seven of these, with the exception of appointing an additional chair to provide research leadership to complement our existing four professors in pharmacy."

The university is seeking a fifth professor and hopes to make an appointment this month. Professor Glen said there were no problems with teaching and standards on the MPharm. "There is no evidence from our internal surveys, annual monitoring, National Student Survey and external examiners of any concerns over standards or of any discontent from students," she said. "We have received no negative feedback from students regarding this matter."

A letter sent to Times Higher Education complained that MPharm students, who are halfway through the two-year course, had been left "high and dry" because other pharmacy courses at Wolverhampton were already full.

"If our appeal is unsuccessful, our priority would be to work with any students affected, to offer support and to ensure they can continue their studies at another suitable institution," Professor Glen said.

melanie.newman@tsleducation.com.

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