The class of 2020

As students across the UK receive their exam results, optics is considering what the future of education and training at university and beyond should look like

students hug

This August school students are anticipating their exam results after a turbulent few months in lockdown. Students in Scotland received their Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) results this week, while students in England expect to receive their A-level results next week on 13 August.

It’s rather mind-boggling to consider that the class of 2020 will be first cohort of students in history to receive their results without having actually sat an exam.

This milestone is a pivotal moment in adolescence; many of you may remember this with clarity or you are perhaps experiencing it again with your own children.

I remember being parked outside my secondary school front gates holding a white envelope. Sat next to me in the driving seat, my dad offered words of reassurance and encouragement, somewhat wasted in my state of flux.

This was short-lived as I tore open the envelope. We both exhaled a sigh of relief. I received good enough grades to go to my first-choice university and study the subject and course I wanted to. I then went off to socialise with my peers with few worries about what the future would hold.

However, for students across the country their experiences may be less carefree. They will have questions and concerns that I never had to contend with, borne from the pandemic.

Universities across the UK have adapted and transformed how courses are taught, exams taken, and funding secured. Despite any concerns students might have, higher education remains a popular choice amongst school leavers.

OT recently reported on UCAS figures that showed a rise in the number of students holding firm offers this year and fewer applicants opting to defer.

At the time of reporting, optometry courses at the University of Hertfordshire and Anglia Ruskin University saw no defers from students.

The University of Huddersfield, only in its first year of offering the course, expanded its intake of students.

There is also work going on behind the scenes by the AOP, the General Optical Council (GOC) and the College of Optometrists to ensure that patient safety is at the forefront and students receive the best possible education, taking into consideration the current climate.

The GOC’s Education Strategic Review aims to make changes to ensure the qualifications approved are responsive to a rapidly changing landscape.

The AOP and OT encourage members to share their views and comments about the GOC’s Education Strategic Review consultation via the community forum or the AOP’s policy team email inbox [email protected].