Aston University optometry students to benefit from £4.8 million funding boost

The university’s College of Health and Life Sciences has been awarded the sum by the Office for Students

LM Aston

Optometry students at Aston University are to benefit from a £4.8 million funding boost that will see an augmented reality simulation facility being built within the College of Health and Life Sciences.

The Office for Students has granted the funding to help ‘develop future healthcare professionals’ and ‘better prepare students for the future of work.’

The funding will allow for expansion of the university’s health simulation facility, alongside further investment in digital clinical equipment.

The augmented reality simulation facility will see students refine their skills in a realistic instrument environment, working with simulated patients who are experiencing a wide range of eye conditions.

New equipment will include an additional Optomap retinal screening device, which will allow the university’s eye clinic to triage patients for the eye hospital, reducing patient waiting times, particularly for conditions such as macular degeneration.

The news comes after a £1.5 million healthcare simulation facility was officially opened at Aston Medical School and the School of Optometry by Birmingham Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton (pictured) on 2 December.

Speaking about the new round of funding, Professor James Wolffsohn, head of the School of Optometry and Audiology at Aston University, said: “With the huge hospital waiting lists, particularly post-COVID, with those in ophthalmology being the highest, it is essential that primary care can take more of the patient load to allow hospitals to focus on surgery and complex cases.

“This investment will allow us to better train our optometry and audiology students to be able to triage patients and to manage more conditions within community practice.”

Professor Aleks Subic, the university’s Vice Chancellor, added that: “This strategic investment will ensure that our students are learning in the very best facilities with access to state-of-the-art digital technologies.

“The new facilities will enable us to prepare students fully for future careers that are strategically important to the healthcare sector and society. This is about bringing Industry 4.0 to healthcare.”

Students studying medicine, pharmacy, nursing and audiology will also benefit from the developments, which will take place over the next three years.

Lead image, l-r: Professor Anthony Hilton, Paulette Hamilton MP, and Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University