(Original post by TigerSwift)
Over the past few years the BPSA has really increased how it rerepresents students and you can see this from searching BPSA in the search functions of the PJ Online and Chemist and Druggist websites. Recently they lobbied the GPhC for changes to the registration exam, and were successful; they are working with UKBA on VISA issues, and this is moving forward; and they were involved in putting pressure on reducing the fees for the preregistration training year.
They also sit on the Modernising Pharmacy Careers (MPC) Programme Board - which is looking at overhauling undergraduate and postgraduate education. A report by the BPSA was one of the main pieces of evidence used to start MPC and they have been involved in the process ever since. If the MPC proposals for undergraduate education are agreed, the prereg year will be integrated into the degree. This will mean training places will have to be commissioned for each student therefore introducing a cap on numbers.
It is slightly unfair to say that the boards of pharmacy haven't done anything. The BPSA and Pharmacists' Defense Association have been talking about student numbers for a while. However, without an official policy from the membership these organisations are restricted in what they fight for. If they had faught for a cap without the agreement of the membership they would have suffered a backlash and loss of representational power. The one problem, however, is that none of the bodies actually have any power to directly cap student numbers.
- The RPS is a professional body and whilst it could publish guidance to unis on student numbers, there is nothing binding unis to follow that guidane.
- The PDA could lobby for caps to student numbers, but as a trade union it is not 100% clear how effective this would be.
- The BPSA will be able to lobby various organisations and have a very strong voice - but it isn't something that will be solved in a year or so.
- Finally, the regulator for pharmacy, The GPhC, accredits courses but has no powers to caps student numbers.
The main problem is the funding models for the pharmacy course. Medicine is funded by the NHS and therefore a set number of places are comissioned. However, pharmacy is not commissioned in the same way and nor is it funded by the NHS. This means it can be treated like any course and therefore any university can set up a pharmacy school as long as they meet GPhC criteria. A lot of universities see pharmacy as a lucritive course and therefore max out student numbers based on lecture theatre sizes.
So as you can see, applying a cap involves a lot of people and won't be easy or soon. If MPC comes to fruition a cap will be imposed, but a lag time will be experienced. Therefore, the problem will still be with us for a while unless the pharmacy profession comes up with another model of practice - such as the two pharmacist pharmacy.
Those are all good ideas. The one problem with cutting the prereg funding is this makes up the vast majority of the preregistration trainee's wage. Get rid of this... no wage?
The entry requirements could be raised. But universities will lower them for individual people to fill the spaces. As mentioned above, the main university admissions staff want bums on seats.