In this course, 9 out of 10 failed
“We were warned of the high difficulty level of the programme when we started. But we didn’t realise that almost every one of us would fail” - Jessica Kaur Sidhu (OsloMet)
Just like at UiO, it is a pharmacy course that has the highest rate of failure at OsloMet. Out of 53 students who took the exam for FARMA1420 (Production of Pharmaceuticals) this spring, only 6 passed. The rest of the students had to study in the summer to retake the exam.
Both students and the university are responsible
Anne Berit Walter, head of studies at the School of Pharmacy, claims that the high rate of failure can be partly explained by the fact that it was the first time the course was conducted under the new syllabus. The course was reduced from 15 to 10 credits, meaning the students had less time to study.
“Speaking from experience, the rate of failure is higher for courses being offered for the first time. Still, we have made several efforts to accommodate the students. Every single student who failed has had a session with the programme management and has shared their opinions about what specifically went wrong. During this, the students have shown some level of understanding”.
The exam in the course is composed of a theoretical and practical part. Walter points out that the course had a high failure rate before the revision as well, just not this high. The statement is especially true for the practical laboratory part of the exam. She thinks there are two reasons why the students struggle to meet the qualification requirement.
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“It’s the students who must read and do the work, while we provide them with the knowledge that should help them through the exam. The students are evaluated by a learning-based criteria, and it’s obvious that in this case there was a discrepancy between the expectations of students and those at the university.”
Walter explains that the university, in the aftermath of such a high fail rate, has taken actions, for example, by organising extra lectures, follow-ups in courses with high fail rates, and one extra day in the lab.
Many have dropped out
Jessica Kaur Sidhu is the student representative for the bachelor programme at Pharmacy School, and is also one of the 9 out of 10 who failed. In less than 24 hours, she will be resitting the exam for the course.
“Are you nervous?”
"Very. Really nervous”.
Sidhu says that the fail rate was a massive surprise for the students. She also agrees that both students and the school are responsible.
“Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we got a new programme plan and new teachers. The lectures were set up very differently before the change, which made the old ways of exam preparations obsolete. Previously, we had exams with a stronger focus on understanding the subject matter, whereas now the lecturers want memorised set answers”.
As the student representative, Sidhu has received numerous complaints from frustrated peers. She says that many of those who usually get As and Bs also failed this course.
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“We felt like we understood what we would be tested on, but not the failing criteria. We only got to know that the criteria would be this strict after the fact”.
She hopes to pass the retake, but she is not so sure if she wants to continue studying pharmacy.
“Had I known that something like this could happen, I wouldn’t have started. We are a group of students with top grades from high school, and I already know of some students who have dropped out. Many are talking about prioritising more practical careers than this instead. I initially had a goal of taking a master’s here. After this summer, I just want to pass so that I can start a new programme.”