“The onus is on the provider to design their qualification as they see fit”

Samara Morgan, head of education development at the GOC, on how the regulator is supporting optometry schools to implement the new education training requirements

Cartoon with a blue background shows two optometrists pointing at a laptop screen that includes a picture of an eye and an eye test chart

The queries we have received from universities around the new education training requirements (ETR) are predominantly about timeline and process. Many education providers ask about our timelines and deadlines, and how they can align it with their own internal processes.

These questions have been resolved during our meetings with providers to discuss their approach, and we have reiterated that the timeline is flexible enough to be aligned with their internal timelines.


The term the GOC uses when approving universities to start providing courses under the new ETR

There have been some more technical queries around practical learning, assessments or around clarity of a specific standard. This is mainly around providers seeking clarification about what changes are and aren’t allowed as a result of moving away from a heavily prescriptive set of requirements to a more flexible approach.

Under the new ETR, the onus is on the provider to design their qualification as they see fit, based on stakeholder feedback and sound rationale, whilst ensuring they still meet the ETR standards.

The new ETR allows for a more flexible approach to how a provider will meet the standards, and they can adapt at a pace that suits them. Therefore, providers have different questions depending on their individual approach and where they are in the process. Meetings with providers are virtual and allow for us to discuss what the process of adaptation will look like specifically for them. The structure of the meeting is informal and led by the provider in terms of what they wish to cover.

Support is there for the providers at every stage of, and prior to, the process. Providers can choose if and when they need a meeting and some providers have opted to have regular catch-ups leading up to their adaptation submissions.

In addition to meeting prior to submitting any documentation, we also give providers as much feedback as possible at each step of the noting process.

Some providers have opted to have regular catch-ups leading up to their adaptation submissions


Identifying areas for improvement

We are recording any themes of standards that are not evidenced as being met, in order to analyse why this might be and provide any guidance as required. We will ensure any guidance is clearly communicated to all providers where required.

We will also be publishing reports on the adaptations noted and how the standards are being met or where further development is required, in order to have a transparent approach to our quality assurance activities.

Feedback from providers who have completed the noting of their adaptation has been that the approach we have been using to support them has worked well, and so we do not anticipate changing that currently. It is possible that we will start to receive queries from providers as they start to deliver the new qualifications and new questions arise.

While we can’t comment on how courses under the old system and the new ETR should be managed simultaneously, it is important to remind providers of the different set of requirements the courses will be quality assured through – either a handbook for the older courses, or the new education and training requirements for the adapted programmes. The quality assurance processes will be different for the differing programmes, and we would encourage providers to get in touch with us should there be any queries in relation to how we will engage with a provider under the different handbook or ETR. 

All student optometrists will be required to meet the knowledge, skills and behaviours for outcomes for registration in optometry as outlined in the requirements, regardless of where they have gained qualification.

It is up to the individual providers as to how they manage the relationship with their stakeholders, eg optometrists, but we do have standards that providers have to meet relating to this – for example, how they seek the views of the development of their qualification, including curriculum and assessment design.

As told to Lucy Miller