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Pharmacy programme axed


PETALING JAYA: The Bachelor of Pharmacy programme at Universiti Malaya (UM) will be removed from the list of accredited undergraduate pharmacy programmes in Malaysia.

UM Faculty of Medicine dean Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said this was a decision made by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency on the recommendation of the Pharmacy Board of Malaysia.

“We would like to emphasise that the failure to receive accreditation was in no way due to the quality of the programme but rather on a technical basis in terms of governance and autonomy.

“The board has made it a criterion that in order to offer a Bachelor of Pharmacy, the programme must have its own standalone faculty rather than be a department within the Faculty of Medicine,” she told The Star.

Prof Adeeba said that in line with global trends of interprofessional education and training, as well as inter- and multi-disciplinary research, both the students and academic staff were better placed within a larger Faculty of Medicine.

“In times of fiscal hardship currently faced by the university, having a separate faculty consisting of 21 staff is not economically prudent,” she said.

Prof Adeeba pointed out that the accreditation status would not impact existing students in the Bachelor of Pharmacy programme, with the last batch expected to graduate in 2021.

Asked whether this means there were no plans to have a standalone faculty for pharmacy, she said pharmacy would remain as an important discipline.

“We will focus on developing niche postgraduate programmes that will respond to the current changes and demands in the country’s healthcare and globally,” she said.

She said UM started offering the degree programme in 1995.

In an immediate response, UM Pharmacy alumni president Wan Azman Wan Ismail described the move as “distressing and sho­cking”.

He said with the decision, the university would not be accepting any more students for its Bachelor of Pharmacy programme from the 2018/2019 intake.

“UM has produced many professional pharmacists, researchers, academics and industry leaders.

“It has also been ranked in the top 50-150 of the QS World University Rankings by Subject,” he said when contacted.

The QS World University Rankings by Subject compiled by the company that also produces the annual QS World University Rankings, highlights the world’s top universities for the study of 48 subjects.

However, Wan Azman said the current and previous batches of pharmacy students would not be affected by the delisting.

He urged UM and the board to resolve the issue instead of stopping the programme entirely.

This, he said, would limit opportunities for students to obtain an affordable and high quality pharmacy programme.

“The fees for the programme at UM is three to six times lower than a private university,” he said.

   

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