The UK pharmacy degree: Attrition rates and demographics of non-completers

Karen Hassell, Elizabeth Seston, Martin Eden, Sarah Willis


Introduction: While it is known that a significant proportion of students within the higher education system do not graduate as expected, knowledge about student attrition in pharmacy is limited. A greater understanding of attrition rates will allow workforce planners and policy makers to estimate the number of new pharmacists that can be expected to join the register each year.
Aim: This paper aims to provide information on attrition among pharmacy students in the UK.
Method: Data are collated from a range of sources to explore trends or patterns in attrition according to factors such as gender, institution and student type.
Results: Between the years 1994 and 2000 overall attrition reached a peak (19%) in 1997, although time series analysis found no significant trend ( p = 0.612). Attrition rates vary by institution, overseas compared with home students and male students compared with females are at greater risk of dropping out.
Conclusion: Changes to the way in which student data are collected are recommended, as it is currently difficult to track a cohort with absolute certainty. Nevertheless, the paper draws attention to the extent to which attrition from the pharmacy degree occurs, enabling workforce planners to estimate future intake onto the professional register.


Attrition, completion rate, MPharm, pharmacy, Schools of Pharmacy, UK

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