Individual visiting an Optometrist

Teesside University is responding to growing eye health needs by offering a brand-new course to educate, train and retain optometrists in the region.

The new BSc (Hons) Clinical Optometry course has been developed with sector partners specifically to address the growing need for qualified optometrists in the North East.

It is the only optometry degree course in the region and students will be learning in the new purpose-built facilities at the University, designed to replicate the clinical setting in which optometrists work.

Teesside University is also working with partners in the sector and professions who will provide placement opportunities for students throughout their education and training. These include a range of local practices for all three years who will be joined by South Tees Hospitals, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals and County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trusts for the students’ final year.

Building on Teesside University’s wide experience of educating high-level graduates in other clinical specialities, a unique element of the new degree course is the amount of time students will spend on placement, with one day a fortnight in the first year and one day a week in the second and third years working alongside qualified eye care professionals in clinical settings.

By being embedded in clinical practice and services, it is hoped that many of the students will stay in the region and work as optometrists once they graduate to address the workforce shortages across eye care in the North East.

Patrick Friis is Senior Lecturer in Optometry and worked as a practitioner before coming to Teesside University to help develop and launch the new degree course. He said: “We decided to develop the course as an integral part of the local eye health community specifically to meet local health needs and to train the kinds of clinicians the profession will need in the future.  That is why our training is so forward-looking.

“It is fantastic to have the wider sector, including large providers, independent practices and hospital colleagues, working alongside us as they are key to developing a highly-skilled local profession for the future.”

Gordon Mitchell, Associate Dean (Marketing and Recruitment) in the University’s School of Health & Life Sciences, added: “We are really excited about this new degree course and proud to be the only provider of optometry degrees in the North East.

“This reinforces the University’s ethos of responding to and working with local communities and partners to meet local needs and to provide our students with great career opportunities to make a real impact within their chosen profession.”

David Hewlett from the FODO, the professional representative body for eye care providers in the UK, said: “We are delighted that Teesside University will be offering this innovative, new optometry degree.   The University has an outstanding reputation for learning and teaching excellence, and this will provide a unique opportunity to train and retain talented optometrists here in the North East.  Most importantly it will help safeguard the eye health of local people for now and future generations.”

The new BSc (Hons) Clinical Optometry course is currently recruiting for a September intake. Find out more at

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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