If the news that students who have invested four years of their valuable time for a degree to which the Pharmacy Board is refusing pre-registration to allow future pharmacists to undertake the mandatory practical year is true, this is not happy news for the University and its students. For we are saying the certificate obtained by the students is not worth the paper it is written on.
According to the regulatory body of the Pharmaceutical profession, the degree is not recognized because it has never endorsed the syllabus and the University has never informed the professional body of the contents of the course.
The introduction of university level studies in pharmacy in Mauritius has given rise to a number of controversies/reservations in the past among others: (i) Competency of the University staff to develop this curriculum and deliver the courses, (ii) Availability of training facilities, (iii) Competency to monitor the training and (iv) Content coverage of the Pharmacy syllabus.
A number of questions/observations immediately come to mind and these need to be addressed by the University, the Pharmacy Board and the students.
1. All reputable universities discuss the course content, syllabus, training facilities, availability of expertise and resources with the professional bodies before the courses are provided.
2. Did the University of Mauritius have the course approved and validated by the Pharmacy Board?
3. If they did and there were concerns raised, what did the University do to remedy those concerns? Also, why was the course started when the university should have known the degree will not be accepted by the Pharmacy Board for pre-registration?
4. Were there agreements between the two parties and the Pharmacy Board subsequently changed its position? If so, why?
5. Did the Pharmacy Board know of the existence of a BPharm course being undertaken by students at the University? If so, why did the Pharmacy Board not intervene?
6. What was the role of the Academic Board and why did it not spot this massive anomaly?
7. Who was responsible for running this course and why did he/she not address the important question of approval and validation before the course was offered to students?
8. Has the Pharmacy Board seen the content of the course? If so, when was the content of the course sent to the Board? If not, why was it not sent to the Board for approval?
9. What support measures will the University provide to students who have invested four years of their lives to a degree that does not allow them to exercise their profession?
10. What will the Vice-Chancellor do to assist the students and their parents? These students have lost four years of their precious time and resources working for a degree which may not be recognized for what it was originally geared for?
11. In an interview (24/06/12), the current Vice-Chancellor pointed out that there was justification for his appointment because unlike foreign applicants, he could speak Bhojpuri among other languages! Will he now talk to the people concerned in Bhojpuri to solve this problem? One wonders if Vice-Chancellors at the University of Mauritius talk to their students in Bhojpuri.
12. What will the politicians, especially the honorable Minister for Education do to remedy this awful situation?
13. What actions/strategies the authorities concerned will take to prevent similar situations from recurring?
14. The University of Mauritius is hardly classified as a top university in the world. Not many people have heard of it. What kinds of signals the University is sending to the outside world especially to those students contemplating doing a degree at the University? What will the new Vice-Chancellor do to enhance the University's reputation nationally and internationally?
Working in partnership is common and is the name of the game around the world. In the United Kingdom, it is agreed practices for Universities to have regular consultation with Professional Bodies so that needs are matched. This is not rocket science. This is pure commonsense. Why this did not happen in this case is beyond comprehension.
Let's hope the Pharmacy Board and the University of Mauritius find a workable solution to enable the students to start their pre-registration. Is it too much to ask the authorities to pin point what components of the course are lacking or need addressing and appropriate actions taken?