A limited number of pre-reg candidates based overseas will now be able to sit the delayed registration assessment remotely, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has confirmed.
In an update, published yesterday (16 February), the regulator announced that candidates who reside in countries with a time difference of more than two hours are now permitted to sit the exam at home in March, but warned there were a ‘limited number’ of slots available for remote sittings.
The GPhC said it ‘cannot guarantee that every candidate will be able to book a place’ due to the limited number of remote slots sittings available on Pearson VUE, ‘which are available to candidates across all Pearson hosted tests’.
The body added that candidates residing in countries with a two-hour time difference or more could not sit the exam in a local test centre and would instead have to sit the exam at home in order to ‘maintain the integrity of the assessment’.
It said: ‘If candidates attend during the test centres’ opening hours, the time difference means that they would complete assessment papers before other candidates had started and this would present too great a risk that the assessment content would be shared, inadvertently or otherwise.
‘If any content is shared, the papers are compromised and the whole sitting would be at risk.’
The GPhC confirmed that overseas candidates will sit the assessment concurrently with UK candidates, ‘which may mean that they would be sitting during unsociable hours in their country’.
This comes after the regulator initially announced overseas students residing in countries with more than six hours’ time difference could not sit the exam after ‘significant challenges’ had been identified.
However, after significant frustration and disappointment was voiced by students, pharmacists and pharmacy bodies, the GPhC said it had listened carefully to the concerns raised and had ‘revisited potential solutions’.
‘Protect and support’ future generation
Commenting on the update, Gail Fleming, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s director of education and professional development,said: ‘We very much welcome the announcement that the GPhC will now be making the registration assessment available to pharmacy trainees outside of the UK.
‘Trainees should not have been asked to travel to the UK to take an online assessment in the midst of a pandemic. The online capability is there and we are aware that a broad range of professions have been using this to run their assessments overseas.’
She added: ‘It is important that all pharmacy trainees can access the registration assessment irrespective of their location or personal situation that may impact on their ability to attend a test centre in person.
‘We must protect and support the future generation of pharmacists during these difficult times as best as we can. We will continue to engage with the GPhC to ensure that similar situations like this do not happen in future.’
In January, pharmacy students, professionals and sector bodies called on the GPhC to scrap the 2019/20 pre-reg exam in response to the latest national lockdown.
The exam – which was initially postponed last April in response to Covid-19 – is currently rescheduled for 17 and 18 March after months of delays.