UWE to launch optometry degree

Students will gain practical experience through placements and an on-campus clinic

UWE to launch optometry degree
The University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol will launch a new three-year optometry degree in September, welcoming 30 students. 

New facilities have been purpose-built in a refurbished Grade II listed building, which includes an optics lab, project rooms, multi-functional teaching spaces and training bays with access to specialist equipment. 

Speaking about the content of the course, optometry programme leader at UWE Bristol, Rebekah Stevens, said: “We feel it is important that they are prepared for the changes to the role and therefore have included some specialist subjects, usually only learned by registered optometrists who are looking to gain higher qualifications.”

First and second year students will practise learned techniques on each other and on manikins and in the optics lab they will learn about refraction, diffraction and polarisation. 

Throughout the three-year course, undergraduates will gain practical experience through placements at High Street practices, specialist clinics and hospitals, which have been secured by the faculty of health and applied sciences. 

Third year students will provide primary care services and treat patients with more complex eye conditions at the on-campus, public-facing optometry clinic. 

Head of department for allied health professions at UWE Bristol, Dr Vivien Gibbs, said: “It was very important that we make this course practice-oriented, so that these practitioners can go out into the work place with real-world experience and are ready to step into the role.”

The new course will also fill a gap in the regional market, according to associate dean of UWE Bristol’s faculty of health and applied sciences, Sally Moyle. 

“Some leading opticians have to recruit optometrists from abroad, and we will be able to train many students for this workforce who live within a 50-mile radius of Bristol,” she explained. 

A business module has been included in the course in order to increase employment opportunities for students, as well as develop them as enterprising practitioners. 

From September 2019, the course will double its intake and have 60 undergraduates studying optometry.