All courses are accredited by GPhC and reviewed annually so they must have similar curriculum. However, they are all unique in their way. Here are some parameters you can consider when making a decision.
Some schools have more practical approaches while some has stronger academic elements. Also, some schools introduce newer teaching methods such as team-based learning, problem based learning and Inter-professional learning instead of typical lecturing on some topics. Take problem based learning as an example, in my school, every semester you will learn from virtual scenarios based on situations resembling real life, you need to think and analyze critically like a pharmacist, conduct independent and self-directed study before returning to your peer group to discuss and refine your acquired knowledge. I found this quite useful.
Integrated Pre-reg Scheme?
Due to visa issues, integrated pre-reg programme is something to consider to secure your eligibility to sit for GPhC exam in order to obtain the practising license in Hong Kong. You do not need to worry about your work visa as it is already covered by your student visa. However, you should consider the financial burden because you will need to pay an extra year of tuition and receive no salary during your pre-reg.
Right now, only University of Bradford and University of Nottingham provide this option. Some schools are also undergoing the accreditation progress to provide such course e.g. University of East Anglia, you should always discuss this option with your preferred school first.
Research Focus, Final Year Project
Since you have to conduct your own research in your last year, it may be worthy to plan ahead and see whether your own interest matches with the school’s specialties if you have already a strong preference in a particular area. For example, University of Bath has a particular focus on macromolecule delivery, University College London (UCL) is highly reputed in nano-medicine research, University of East Anglia (UEA) is the world leading researchers in pharmacy practice of dysphagia and University of Cardiff has made novel findings in transdermal formulation.
Some schools (University of Bradford, University of Strathclyde, UEA, UCL etc…) are involved in the Eramus programme, they receive and send students to destinations across the globe such as Paris, Berlin, Madrid and USA. If you like to learn more about pharmacy practice outside of the UK, this will be a good opportunity.
The number of student societies, sport clubs; availability of sports facilities, leisure activities; student to staff ratio, how responsive and supportive school staff is , university culture, living cost, accessibility, crime rate, campus life… are all important factors to be worth thinking about.
University and Subject Rankings
It is very subjective and depends on what criteria they focus on (e.g. student satisfaction / research quality). Therefore, different ranking leagues of the same schools can be very different. You can use this as a partial indicator of the quality of the course. The Complete University Guide is one of the most popular organisation that provides University league tables in the UK.
Current Student, Career Fairs
You can find out more information by attending the education fairs that are held twice annually by British Council in around January and July in the exhibition centre or through directly contacting current students and staff.
Some Top Pharmacy Schools in the UK (in alphabetical order):
Author: Joe, a UK final year student