Selection Criteria and Outcomes in a Problem-Based Learning Bachelor of Pharmacy Programme in South Africa

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Failure and low completion rates are a general concern at universities. We investigated the relationship between students’ admission profiles, undergraduate academic outcomes and completion rates in a four-year Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) programme in South Africa. The programme uses a unique student selection method and problem-based learning pedagogy. A retrospective cohort study, including 112 BPharm students, compared selection marks with annual cumulative final marks for each of the four years of study. The relationship between admission and cumulative marks were determined using Pearson’s correlation (p˂0.05 considered significant). The overall pass rate was high (93%) irrespective of the number of years taken to graduate, whereas 64.3% of students graduated in the minimum time of four years. Matriculation life sciences admission marks correlated with cumulative academic final marks in the second (p=0.032), third (p=0.005), and fourth (p=0.041) years of study. Physical sciences matriculation marks correlated with the fourth-year cumulative final marks (p=0.015). Correlation between the admission marks and academic outcomes was moderate, suggesting that the problem-based learning BPharm programme is able to level students’ admission profiles and academic outcomes. However, other factors could have influenced academic success/failure during the post-admission period. Current understanding of students’ success could benefit from qualitative studies exploring these factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-82
Number of pages19
JournalAfrica Education Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • academic outcomes
  • admission criteria
  • graduation rates
  • problem-based learning
  • throughput


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