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Pharmacy at Ulster - FAQs for Canadian students

How do I become a pharmacist in the UK?

The route to becoming a registered pharmacist in the UK normally takes five years and is as follows:

  1. Successful completion of  a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)/Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) accredited MPharm degree (normally four years), followed by
  2. Completion of a pre-registration year and success in the GPhC or PSNI pre-registration examination. This period usually lasts 12 months and is paid employment. It can be taken in community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy or the pharmaceutical industry, or a combination of two (max six months industry).

What are the visa requirements to study the MPharm degree in the UK?

Tier 4 visa under the points based system

A Tier 4 (General) student visa is required, which is the category for students coming to the UK for post-16 education.

You must meet the full requirements of the immigration rules and have 40 points in total as shown below:

  • You must have a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a fully licensed Tier 4 sponsor. Ulster University is a recognised Tier 4 sponsor [30 points].
  • You must have enough money to cover course fees and monthly living costs (also known as maintenance or funds) [10 points]. This is currently £1,015 per month for living costs if you are studying outside London or anywhere else in the UK for the majority of your study (more than 50% of your study time).
  • You must show that you have money for your living costs for each month of your course, up to a maximum of nine months. You can use money held in an account owned by you or by your parents or legal guardian.

Part-time work allowances while on a Tier 4 (General) student visa

  • 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during vacations.

What are the visa requirements to complete the pre-registration year in the UK?

There are two routes available for obtaining visas that will allow pre-registration to be completed in the UK.

Route one: Tier 2 (General) work visa

Tier 2 is a sponsored route within the points based immigration system. Therefore, the employer needs to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) before the person offered the job can apply for a Tier 2 visa.

The employer can apply for a CoS if the candidate is a graduate from a UK university with a recognised degree and is switching from a Tier 4 student visa. The employer must be a licensed sponsor.

To be eligible for a Tier 2 visa, you must score a minimum of:

  • 50 points for Attributes, which includes:
    • Having a CoS [30 points]. You will be awarded 30 points if you have a Certificate of Sponsorship and are applying to switch into Tier 2 (General) and you have or were last granted entry clearance, leave to enter or remain as a Tier 4 (General) student
    • Earning a salary in excess of £20,800 per annum [20 points].
  • 10 points for English language skills
    • You will be awarded 10 points for English language where you have met the English language requirement in a previous grant of leave. This will be the case if you have ever been granted leave as a Tier 4 (General) student.
  • 10 points for Maintenance (funds)
    • You must score 10 points for maintenance by showing you have at least £945. Overdraft facilities will not count as available funds.

Students must apply for and pay for their own Tier 2 visa. They will need a CoS from their employer before they can apply for the visa. Prior to completing an application for a Tier 2 visa, students should read the Tier 2 policy guidance – April 2016.

Please note: Postal applications take approximately six weeks to process so start the application process as soon as you have been notified that you have passed your MPharm. You need a visa before you can start your pre-registration training.

These arrangements were introduced enabling overseas students to switch to a Tier 2 work visa with a minimum salary of £20,800 for both public and private pre-registration pharmacist posts.

Hospital pre-registration placements usually pay at this level (£20,800) or higher; however, the community pharmacy sector does not usually pay this minimum salary required. Students must be aware that these pre-registration places are limited and are awarded competitively at the discretion of the employer.

Overseas students completing the MPharm will continue to have the option of applying for pre-registration training with employers (mainly, hospitals) who are registered as Tier 2 sponsors with the UKVI and pay £20,800 or above. 

However, overseas students who join the MPharm programme and hope to carry out pre-registration training in the UK must be aware that Tier 2 visa opportunities will inevitably be limited and cannot be guaranteed by Ulster University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

For more information about eligibility for a Tier 2 visa, please see the government website.

Route two: Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)

Another option completing the pre-registration year following graduating with an MPharm degree from the UK applies to certain nationalities, which includes Canadian students.

You can apply for a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa if you:

  • want to live and work in the UK for up to two years
  • are aged 18 to 30
  • have £1,890 in a personal bank account
  • are from Canada.

You must apply for your visa within three months of receiving your certificate of sponsorship. You can apply using your passport as evidence that you are sponsored.

Places are limited and your application will be refused if all the places for a year have already been taken. Check on the Home Office website for announcements about whether all the places for your country have been taken.

*On 27 November 2008, Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) replaced a number of different schemes, including the Working Holidaymakers scheme for Commonwealth citizens. If you have already spent time in the UK as a Working Holidaymaker, you cannot apply under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme). You can apply only once under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme).

Do I have to complete the pre-registration year in the UK if I wish to practise in Canada?

No. To start the Canadian licensure process, the minimum educational requirement is a four-year undergraduate degree in pharmacy. The MPharm degree meets this requirement.

A student does not have to complete the pre-registration year in the UK.

Can I license and practise as a pharmacist in Canada with a UK MPharm degree?

If you choose to complete a pharmacy degree outside Canada you will be required to complete the Pharmacists’ Gateway Canada requirements to practise in your home country. 

The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) will assess your qualifications and competence for entry-to-practice through a series of evaluations:

  • a document evaluation: Your personal identification documents, pharmacy degree, educational transcripts and licensure statements will be evaluated by the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada.
  • an evaluating examination: This exam evaluates whether your pharmacy education is comparable to that of Canadian pharmacy graduates. It will test your knowledge about the different areas of pharmacy that are learned in Canadian programs. You must pass the Evaluating Examination to be eligible to write the qualifying examination (Part I and Part II).
  • a qualifying examination: The qualifying examination will determine if your knowledge, skills and abilities are suitable for practising pharmacy safely and effectively in an ‘entry level’ position.

Every province/territory in Canada is unique in their requirements for licensure as a pharmacist.  

Please refer to www.pharmacistsgatewaycanada.ca where you can review and compare the requirements needed for licensure within each Canadian jurisdiction.

Am I considered an international pharmacy graduate even though I am a Canadian citizen?

Individuals who have graduated from a pharmacy program outside of Canada are considered international pharmacy graduate, regardless of citizenship.

How does the licensing process differ from that for a graduate from a Canadian university?

You would still do the qualifying examination along with a period of practical experience through an apprenticeship/internship program

Do I need A level qualifications to apply?

No. A level courses are standardised examinations taken in the UK at the end of high school which, if of a sufficient standard, allow entry to undergraduate programmes in the UK.

These courses are not available to students outside the UK, so different criteria are applied.

Canadian applicants may apply to study pharmacy at Ulster directly from high school or once they have completed an appropriate undergraduate degree.

We will examine your Grade Point Average (GPA) in your High School Diploma to help us decide whether you have the appropriate type and level of qualifications to enter the programme.

When do I need to apply to your course?

You can apply to our course at one of the following three stages:

  • following completion of your high school examinations
  • during another undergraduate degree
  • following completion another undergraduate degree.

Application deadlines are available here. If you have any queries please contact the admissions tutor.

How can I apply? 

All applications must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

If you have any queries please contact the admissions tutor.

What will happen after I have submitted my application?

All applications are administered through UCAS and you will receive communication from them accordingly. Generally, institutions have 40 days to consider your application.

We are happy to answer any queries that you may have at any time during the application process but we do not have any administrative control over the UCAS process. 

Will I get an offer from Ulster University to study pharmacy?

Yes, if you meet our criteria. There are two types of offer that you may receive:

  • Unconditional offer: This means that you have fulfilled our entry requirements and if you accept the offer you will automatically have a place on our programme for the next academic year. For example, you may be accepted on your high school grades or it may be that you have completed an undergraduate degree with appropriate course content and suitable overall GPA.
  • Conditional offer: This offer has been based on your academic performance to date and it means that we require you to fulfil particular criteria. For example, if you are currently undertaking an undergraduate degree we may ask you to achieve a certain GPA.

How many references do I need to provide?

You should follow the application process as laid out by UCAS. We would usually expect at least one academic reference but a work-related reference may also be helpful.

Would I be eligible to apply for financial help through the Ontario Student Assistance Programme (OSAP)?

Yes, Ulster University is approved for OSAP purposes.

Why would I choose a UK-based university rather than one in the US or in Australia?

Study in the US is more expensive than study as an international student in the UK.

Current US fees are at least twice as much and, in some cases, four times as much as Ulster University fees for international students.

Similarly, studying in Australia is much more expensive than in the UK as an international student.

Also, in Australia, the academic year starts in February rather than in September, which means that you would have a seven-month wait before beginning your studies.

Studying at Ulster University not only provides the opportunity to explore the UK and Ireland, but other European countries are on your doorstop and provide scope to broaden your horizons even further.

Why would I choose Ulster rather than another UK-based university offering pharmacy?

  • First class education: We have been ranked first in the UK for studying pharmacy in the Guardian League tables for the last three years.
  • Employability: 100% of our pharmacy graduates are employed as a pre-registration pharmacist within six months of graduation.
  • Satisfaction: Pharmacy at Ulster scored between 94%  and 100% for student satisfaction in the last three National Student Surveys.
  • Hands-on: From year one of the course, our students learn practical, clinical skills. As their skills build through the course they see real patients in community and hospital placements. We have a small cohort in Ulster which allows a greater amount of small class teaching and more clinical experience during the degree.
  • Economical: The cost and quality of student accommodation in and around our campus is amongst the best in the UK.
  • Friendly: Our course is one of the smallest courses in the UK. We usually have about 35-40 students in each year, so there is plenty of opportunity to get to know your year group, students from other years and the staff.
  • Scenic: The North Coast of Northern Ireland is a very beautiful place to study; the local beaches and coastline in particular are stunning and have been regularly featured in Game of Thrones.