18 March 2020

COVID-19: Joint statement from the Optometry Schools Council (OSC) and College of Optometrists

The OSC and the College of Optometrists are working together to minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19 to optometry education provision and to enable optometry students to meet the requirements to enrol on the Scheme for Registration in 2020. 

We are developing plans, as a matter of urgency, to provide as smooth a transition as possible for graduating students, and for students on programmes that integrate university study and the Scheme. We are doing this in ways that uphold high education and professional standards and ensure adherence to GOC requirements.

We are working to put in place the following arrangements: 

  1. Students/new graduates with any deficits in their patient episode numbers and/or clinical competencies that cannot be addressed due to the current disruption to their undergraduate study created by COVID-19, will be supported by their university and the College to demonstrate fulfilment of these requirements during the early stages of their pre-registration placement.
  2. The College and universities will work with other stakeholders, including supervisors, employers and College assessors, to ensure that all parties, including patients and the public, can have confidence in the modified arrangements and feel supported in contributing to their implementation. 
  3. Students who have outstanding patient episode numbers and/or clinical competencies in 2020 will be eligible for the award of an Optometry degree, providing that their degree performance is at 2:2 standard or above.
  4. Universities will work with the College to explore how new graduates can appropriately be supported in their transition to the Scheme during this period of exceptional circumstance, recognising that there may be unavoidable gaps between individuals’ last contact with patients as undergraduate students and their enrolment on the Scheme.

The OSC and the College will share more detailed plans to progress the above as these are developed. We will particularly consider the situation and needs of students enrolled on degree programmes into which the Scheme for Registration is integrated, and of students who enter the Scheme via other progression routes. 

The College is developing plans to support all trainees’ progression through the Scheme for Registration during the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19. This approach is again to uphold high education and professional standards and to meet GOC requirements. These will be shared by the College in due course.

This article was correct at time of publication. 

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