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Evaluation of the MSc and BSc programmes in Pharmacy at Swedish universities and university colleges

This report presents the results of the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education´s 2006 evaluation of Pharmacy programmes at Swedish universities and university colleges. The evaluation is part of the Government directive to review the quality of all education programmes which lead to general or professional qualifications, including postgraduate programmes, during the period from 2001 to 2006.

The report consists of two parts: the National Agency´s decisions and reflections, and the assessment team´s report. The assessment team is responsible for the content of the latter.

The evaluated MSc programmes in Pharmacy are offered at Uppsala University and Göteborg University, and the BSc programmes are offered at Uppsala University ,Göteborg University, Umeå University, Luleå University of Technology, Karlstad University, and at the University of Kalmar.

The evaluation was carried out by an assessment team commissioned by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education and made up of two experts from Finland , one from Denmark and one from Norway , and three from Sweden. The team contained three women and four men. The student representative completed an MSc in Pharmacy during the course of the evaluation.

Project managers at the National Agency were Anton Ridderstad, at the beginning of the evaluation, and Ann-Britt Gabrielsson, from August 2006. Together with the assessment team, Anton Ridderstad visited the BSc programmes in Pharmacy at Uppsala University and Umeå University, while Ann-Britt Gabrielsson visited the remaining six programmes together with the assessment team.

The assessment is based on the institutions´ self-evaluations and the information and impressions that the team picked up on visits carried out between 19 September and 31 October 2006. During these visits the assessment team spoke with representatives of programme management, students, teachers, placement and dissertation tutors, as well as institution and faculty management.

In its reflections and conclusions, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education has focused on some of the strengths and problem areas that the assessment team identified in its report. The MSc programmes are judged to be of good quality, with happy students, sufficient pharmaceutical teaching competence, and good links to research. The volume of BSc programmes has grown sharply over the last six years in order to fill the shortage of dispensing chemists in the pharmacy service. This has led to, among other things, insufficient pharmaceutical teaching competence at several institutions, which in turn has meant large numbers of guest teachers and shortcomings in terms of research links and pharmacy focus within the more general subjects on the programmes. Dissertations are of an uneven standard, and students on the whole do not receive enough training in two-way communication to manage their advisory role after completing the BSc programme. The assessors also comment on the lack of new thinking on the programmes, and point out that the Bologna process appears to be moving slowly.

The assessment team´s report begins with the assessment basis, including a description of the assessment criteria used. Under the heading Content and Goals of the Programmes, there are descriptions of the increased number of students on Pharmacy programmes over the last six years, as well as of how the pharmacist´s professional role has developed and of the labour market situation for graduates from pharmacy programmes. The section ends with a proposal for a new educational structure, in which the first three years of studies would be the same for the BSc and the MSc programmes and would conclude with a BSc degree in Pharmacy. The programme would then be extendable to two years´ specialised studies to gain an MSc, which is on the second level under the System of Qualifications that came into force on 1 January 2007. 

The team´s assessment of the evaluated Pharmacy programmes is summarised in the General Comments and Recommendations section, which ends with recommendations to all the higher education institutions.

These texts follow a fixed heading structure, beginning with a description of facts which each institution has been given an opportunity to review. The contents and extent of the texts under the other headings vary between institutions depending on what the team found particularly worthy of comment or assessment, based on each institution´s self-evaluation and on the team´s visit. The assessment of each programme is summed up in the recommendations made to each of the institutions.

On the basis of the assessment team´s report, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education calls into question the entitlement to award BSc degrees in Pharmacy at Luleå University of Technology and Karlstad University. On these programmes, teacher capacity and competence is insufficient. There are further shortcomings in scholarliness and professional relevance. The shortcomings are summarised in the team´s recommendations to the two institutions.

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