The British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) has called for “urgent” improvements to be made to the way that exam and assessment results are released to pharmacy students.
This follows the death of former BPSA representative and pharmacy student, Mared Foulkes, who died by suicide in July 2020 after receiving results that “wrongly” told her she had failed an exam and, as a result, could not enter her third year.
In a statement published on 1 November 2021, the BPSA said it urged the schools of pharmacy, General Pharmaceutical Council and Pharmacy Schools Council to make urgent improvements on the release of results.
The improvements suggested include: only releasing results at a time where support is available and the university can be contacted for any queries to be made and mistakes to be rectified; ensuring that results are clear and accurate with only one final transcript stating a student’s progress being sent; and, in cases where a student cannot progress to the next year of study, ensuring that communication is made via “personal and appropriate means”.
“Information should be provided regarding the next steps for this student and support should be available to guide them through this transition”, the BPSA statement said, adding that wellbeing and mental health should be “incorporated” into the curriculum.
“It is of the utmost importance that we ensure pharmacy students are supported in both their professional and personal lives, including throughout their education.”
Foulkes, who was aged 21 years when she died, was studying pharmacy at Cardiff University and had passed a re-sit of the assessment. However, results emailed to her on 8 July 2020 did not include the re-sit mark.
A coroner’s inquest hearing held in Caernarfon, North Wales, on 28 October 2021, confirmed that Foulkes had died of suicide later that same day.
Recording her conclusion of suicide, coroner Katie Sutherland said Cardiff University’s system for telling students their results could be confusing.
A spokesperson for Cardiff University said that while the university believed it had acted within regulations, it fully accepted that lessons “can and should be learnt”.
“The untimely loss of a family member in this way is devastating. Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the family and friends,” the spokesperson said.
“Changes are already being considered and we will cooperate fully with the coroner’s verdict.”