Everyone want a piece of pharmacy now. Pharmacy courses back in Malaysia have been blooming like crazy after mid 2008. A list of private institutions offering pharmacy course would illustrate my point.

1. International Medical University - Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons), 4 years local.
International Medical University - Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons), credit transfer 2 years to University of Otage, New Zealand.
International Medical University - Master of Pharmacy, 2 years local + 2 years at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.
International Medical University - Master of Pharmacy, 2.5 years local + 1 year at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.
5. UCSI - Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons), 4 years local.
6. AIMST - Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons), 4 years local.
7. University of Nottingham - Master of Pharmacy, 2 years local + 2 years at
University of Nottingham, UK.
8. Segi College - Master of Pharmacy, 2 years local + 2 years at University of
Sunderland, UK.
9. Monash University - Bachelor of Pharmacy, 4 years local.
10. Island College of Technology -Ijazah Sarjana Muda Farmasi (kerjasama USM) 4 years local.
11. Masterskill College - Bachelor of Pharmacy, 4+0 with La Trobe University, Australia.
Masterskill College - Diploma in Pharmacy, 3 years local.
13. CUCMS, Cyberjaya - Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons), 4 years local.
CUCMS, Cyberjaya - Diploma in Pharmacy, 2.5 years local.
15. HELP University College - Ijazah Sarjana Muda Farmasi (kerjasama USM) , 4 years local.
16. Taylor’s University College - Master of Pharmacy, 2 years local + 2 years at Cardiff University. Soon.


Six new pharmacy programs in just a year, I would be happy to be a high school leaver and a applicant now. I guess none of you get my point yet. This phenomenon would probably affect the quality of pharmacy education one going to receive in Malaysia, forget about more pharmacy schools indirectly would promote more competition among schools and thus, pharmacy schools will have to raise the quality of education they are going to provide, to buck up. That is going to happen only in an ideal world, not in the Boleh-land.

The increased in number of pharmacy schools would serve as a means for MORE students to take up pharmacy course, and it might not be a good thing to begin with. Pharmacy courses at private institutions are not cheap and as a result, not many parents could afford the fees without taking up government education loan, the PTPTN. The cheapest pharmacy course, add up to a total of at least RM 100,000 would burn a hole in many parents' pocket, and that is for total fees only, add in the miscellaneous expenses and that number is not a small amount for majority of Malaysians so to speak. 

I still remembered the look my friends gave me when they realized I didn’t apply for the PTPTN because my parents could actually afford the fees during my one semester in UCSI.

There are people out there who can't afford it even after taking up the RM 80,000 loan.

If an average of 800 students are applying to get in any pharmacy course each year but only 200 chosen one are taken in because they are the only one who met the minimum requirement; before mid 2008, those 200 students will have to compete among each other to get in the pharmacy course at the institution they want, this would ensure the fittest [smartest or the one with the best result or the one with the money] would be able to pursue the course, promoting a healthy competition while others would have to live with the fact that they could not get in pharmacy. They have to look elsewhere, they have to forget their dreams, they have to settle for less, they are forced to do so.

Post mid-2008, basically everyone with money would be able to study pharmacy as long as you have a combination of not-too-bad results. Before mid-2008, most private institutions are facing problem filling up the entire quota allocated for pharmacy course. They will have more difficulties filling them up in future. If an instituition is allowed to take in 100 students for each intake and they managed to fill in 70 places, the numbers will drop further with the fierce competition among new schools of pharmacy.

This is happening in UCSI for years or at least for two most recent years (at the time this is posted). This however, is not that bad part because those 70 students taken in would be still able to cover the operation cost of the pharmacy course and thus the institution would still survive, assuming the total cost of conducting a pharmacy program for each semester is equal to the amount of fees paid by 50 students, in simpler words, you get 50 students to pay the fees and one private institution would [still able to] keep the programme running.

What if the total student admitted become less than 50? How is that possible, you asked. Because we have more pharmacy courses, more choices and a larger total quota to accommodate a bigger number of students, the 200 students in the earlier scenario can now pick the school they wanted to attend instead of the school choosing the students, now the schools are the beggers. If 200 students are sufficient to sustain only five reputable schools out there, if the number of institutions are increased to seven, we would only have around 30 students each institution. What is going to happen next?

How do they, the institutions who provide you with education in exchange for your money could still survive? They can, by lowering the minimum requirement to increase the amount of students "qualified" to take up pharmacy. This hopefully would help to maintain their viable business model. Then, students, the not-so qualified one will struggle with their studies and they give up eventually or the institution decided to lower the standard/quality/difficulty of education provided, so more students can pass. Rumors are, most public exams back in Malaysia are easier to score compared to the past.

If they are not going to do so and make the students pass, do you think parents would continue to support their children taking up pharmacy at that institution? Of course, they are going after QUALITY of education especially when it is their children we are talking about here as you might have in mind. Well, parents always wanted the best for their children until you are one for yourself and it is your children.

Most parents would end up transferring their children to another school of pharmacy, the one many students are able to graduate or in other words not-so-tough pharmacy course. Do you agree with me? No?. Do you think that any parents would be still able to act rationally, live in an ideal world and choose to go for quality, not being emotionally involved in the whole decision making process, deal with the possibility that their children not able to graduate with a pharmacy degree one day, that their child is not smart enough to be a pharmacist? 

I have not even a slight doubt about my parents choice if one day they are forced to make the difficult decision and most of all, my own decision. By hook or by crook, I want or rather I need a pharmacy degree regardless of the quality, giving up is announcing to the world that pharmacy has defeated me and that I am not one of the creme de la creme. I am not going to let that happen.

In other words, quality would have to give way eventually. If you think that Malaysia education [solely pharmacy degree in this case] is inferior compared to a prestigious degree done elsewhere in a developed country, it would be worse in the future. 

Young, a student taking medicine in UWA agrees with me, Not Another One. - here.

The only good thing I can think of about producing so many future-to-be pharmacists would probably help to feed the momentum pushing for the separation of dispensing and prescribing. What about the doctors and the cookies jar?
The doctors would stand firm on their stance of Malaysia is never (going to be) ready for that to be implemented and the pharmacists will refute that that is the way it should be (long time ago). The catch is, many pharmacists at that time might not be as competent as pharmacist today and even Lim Kit Siang is standing with the doctors – opposing separation of dispensing and prescribing, doctors-prescribe-pharmacists-dispense-patients-suffer – here.

The crucial question is - do you still think this is a good thing right now?

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