GOC shares recommendations on RQF levels for optometrists and dispensing opticians

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has recommended that qualifications approved by the General Optical Council (GOC) for entry onto the register as an optometrist should be set at level 7/11 and at level 6/10 for dispensing opticians on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)/Framework for Higher Education Qualification (FHEQ) in England – and equivalent in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The GOC co-commissioned the QAA to gather evidence and make a recommendation for the most appropriate entry level qualifications approved by the GOC. The research was co-commissioned with The College of Optometrists (CoO), the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO), Optometry Schools Council, and Opticians Academic Schools Council (OASC).

The QAA carried out a number of research activities, including:

  • a survey of current education providers;
  • virtual interviews with a sample of education providers; 
  • a student survey; 
  • an industry/employer roundtable; 
  • analysis of reasons why providers set their courses at a particular level; and
  • desk-based analysis of other professional, statutory and regulatory bodies approaches to level recommendations. 

Leonie Milliner, GOC Director of Education, said:

"We’d like to thank the co-commissioners for their commitment to this important piece of research.  For the first time the sector has come together to establish the evidence-base for change on a complex issue central to our strategic review of optical education. Particular thanks to everyone who participated in the research and to the QAA for their extensive work to ensure their recommendations are evidence-based.

The QAA’s research will inform the work of our Expert Advisory Groups as they finalise proposals to update the GOC’s education and training requirements following the close of our consultation, which will include amending our draft Standards for Approved Qualifications to reflect the appropriate qualification framework level for GOC-approved qualifications in optometry and dispensing optics leading to entry to the register.

We will then present the final draft Outcomes for Registration, Standards for Approved Qualifications and Quality Assurance and Enhancement Method to Council for approval in February 2021."

Douglas Blackstock, QAA’s Chief Executive Officer, said:

"We’re grateful to the General Optical Council for commissioning us to undertake this research. We believe that setting level 7 for optometrists and level 6 for dispensing opticians as the recommended entry qualifications will help the GOC ensure their services instil public confidence."

The QAA’s report is available on our website.