Frequently Asked Questions

We have produced frequently asked questions about the new education and training requirements and how they may affect you.

Why are new requirements being introduced?

Our new requirements replace handbooks for optometry (2015) and ophthalmic dispensing (2011), Independent Prescribing Handbook (2008), and Contact Lens Handbook (2007). The new requirements reflect modern regulation practices whilst ensuring that all optical professionals are equipped to deliver eye-care services in a rapidly changing landscape and meet the needs of patients in the future.

Watch the short video below for more information. 

What are the key changes?

Our new requirements introduce several important changes to make sure we regulate optical education in a way which keeps pace with developments in the sector. This will enable qualifications we approve to continue to be fit for purpose. Key changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Introducing a new outcomes-based approach specifying the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of GOC registrants.
  • Ensuring students gain greater experience of working with patients, interprofessional learning, and teamwork.
  • A greater emphasis on equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).
  • A new risk-based approach to the GOC’s quality assurance and enhancement.
Will the qualification/degree I am taking still exist once the new requirements are in place?

There will be no disruption for students currently enrolled on any existing GOC-approved optical education/training programme.

We are working with all providers of existing GOC-approved qualifications on their plans to adapt to the new requirements. All students on existing GOC-approved programmes will gain a registrable qualification. You will be able to find out more from your education providers on their plans for adapting to the new requirements.

We will continue to quality assure all GOC-approved qualifications against either the existing handbooks or the new education and training requirements. Eventually, all providers will offer programmes against only the new education and training requirements.

When are providers expected to adapt their current qualifications to the new education and training requirements?

The implementation of the new Education and Training Requirements (ETR) is provider-driven, and it will be their decision about whether a programme is ready to start using the new requirements, although we expect most to do so from September 2023 or 2024.

See our timeline graphic for more information about the steps we took to develop and introduce the new ETR. 

If approval is granted for a provider to start a new programme, will the GOC review each year, as with the previous accreditation processes or is there an alternative approach?

Providers of existing GOC-approved qualifications will adapt their existing programmes to be in line with the new requirements. Education providers wishing to offer a new qualification will need to go through a staged process to gain GOC approval. More information can be found on the Education and Training Requirements page

Once a provider has completed the adaptation/approval process, they will move onto the new quality assurance and enhancement method (QAEM). You can read about this in section 3 of our ‘Requirements’ documents, specifically subheading 6 ‘Periodic, annual, thematic, and sample-based reviews.