How we approve qualifications
As part of our approval and quality assurance (A&QA) of education providers and programmes, all providers are required to demonstrate how they satisfy our requirements, as listed in our Education handbooks.
We seek assurance from providers in a number of ways:
- A&QA visits;
- Notification of reportable events and changes to programmes;
- Conditions management; and
- Annual monitoring.
Providers are also required to ensure that all students undertaking training, assessment or practical experience are registered with us for the duration of their training. We have produced guidance for providers on student registration, which includes the key processes and timelines.
COVID-19 temporary documents
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on 7 August 2020 we approved temporary changes to the Optometry Handbook and the Supervision policy. The temporary changes are applicable for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 academic years.
Our Education handbooks contain our requirements and core competencies relating to the A&QA of education and training programmes which lead to registration with the GOC. There is an additional supervision policy which applies to all providers.
- Optometry Handbook 2015
- Dispensing Handbook 2011
- Contact Lens Handbook 2007
- Independent Prescribing Handbook 2008
- Supervision policy
New education and training requirements
In February 2021, our Council approved new education and training requirements for GOC approved qualifications leading to registration as a dispensing optician or optometrist. The new requirements consist of:
- Outcomes for Registration
- Standards for Approved Qualifications
- Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method
They now replace the current Education Quality Assurance Handbooks for optometry (2015) and ophthalmic dispensing (2011) and will ensure that all dispensing opticians and optometrists are equipped to deliver eye-care services in a rapidly changing landscape and meet the needs of patients in the future.
We periodically conduct quality assurance (QA) visits to approved providers to assess whether the standard of education and assessment offered gives sufficient assurance that students have achieved adequate skills and knowledge to practise safely. After each visit we produce a report of the findings that includes any recommendations for improvement.
Annual monitoring and reporting (AMR)
Annually, providers are required to send us a monitoring return to communicate and reflect on key changes, events and risks to their programme(s), and to provide assurance of their continuing compliance with our requirements.
The sector report provides a high-level summary of the outcomes of recent AMR cycles.
- Annual Monitoring and Reporting (AMR) 2017-2018
- Annual Monitoring and Reporting (AMR) 2018-2019
- Annual Monitoring and Reporting (AMR) 2019-2020
Notification of reportable events and changes
To assist us in maintaining adequate oversight of approved qualifications, providers are required to notify us of any events and changes to their programme. We have provided guidance to assist providers in identifying the events and changes that must be reported, and to explain the notifications process.
Should a provider fail to demonstrate that it meets one or more of our requirements, the GOC will identify the unmet requirement(s) and set a condition in relation to this. A condition will identify the unmet requirement and set a deadline for the provider to demonstrate that the requirement is met.
Failure to meet a condition by the deadline set by the GOC is a serious matter. It reduces the assurance that the GOC has over a provider’s ability to deliver a programme effectively and comply with our requirements. Failure to comply with a condition may lead to the GOC conducting a Serious Concerns Review of the programme, which could lead to the withdrawal of approval by the GOC. We have produced a flowchart which outlines our process.
Recognition of prior learning (RPL)
We recognise that many providers are part of institutions that already have well-tested and longstanding systems for the accreditation or recognition of prior learning (RPL) in other programmes, which may be unregulated or regulated by other regulators.
We have therefore produced recognition of prior learning guidance that sets out our expectations and requirements of providers regarding RPL.