PETALING JAYA: Thirty-two new pharmacy graduates from a university in the Klang Valley either cannot get a job in their field or continue working as pharmacists.
A graduate of the batch said it was because the four-year course that they took has not received full accreditation from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.
Since the new course at the university only has partial accreditation, they could not obtain the needed provisional registered pharmacist (PRP) licence to apply for a job as pharmacist or if they had already started working, the licence was revoked, he said.
They are worried that they cannot support themselves, besides being saddled with their National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) debt.
A 26-year-old graduate, who declined to be named, said he started working with a pharmaceutical manufacturer early this year but in mid-March, his company was informed by the Pharmacy Board that he could not practise as a pharmacist until his university received full accreditation for the pharmacy course.
"I was shocked because the board had earlier approved my PRP and even accepted that I was going to work as a houseman in a private company. Without a job, how am I to pay back my RM98,000 PTPTN loan?" he asked.
A pharmacy graduate can apply for a job as a houseman in the public or private sector after getting the PRP licence.
A PRP is given for one year for housemanship, with a maximum contract offered for two years, while for the compulsory service thereafter, it is for one year, with a maximum contract offered for another year.
Another graduate said she had been jobless as her job offer was put on hold due to the same issue.
"To join the private sector, I have to send a Letter of Liberalisation to the Pharmacy Board, which I was not able to because the course has not received full accreditation," she said.
She said she was also unable to attend the Public Service Commission job interview due to the problem.
She has two PTPTN loans to pay ? a RM72,000 loan for her diploma and RM98,000 for her degree course.
"I have been having sleepless nights, thinking whether I will have a job and whether the course will be accredited," she said.
Another graduate, who is currently working in a pharmaceutical laboratory, is concerned that her PRP licence would not be approved and she could not practise as a pharmacist.
The graduate who received top results said she discovered the problem when she requested relevant documents from the university to apply for an exemption from paying back her PTPTN loan.
She needs a certificate of full accreditation for the course but the university only provided one that states partial accreditation, which is not acceptable.
"Now I am worried that I will be laid off," she said.
In response, the university said apart from the pre-course visit, it had completed monitoring visits by regulatory bodies on March 17 and 18, 2015, and Feb 6 and 8 this year, and the full accreditation visit was slotted for three days beginning today.
"We are on track to achieve full accreditation for the Pharmacy programme," the vice-chancellor's office said in an email reply.
This is the first batch of the university's home-grown Pharmacy Bachelor's programme while the other programme is tied up with a foreign university.