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Core Competencies

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.

Acrobat Reader icon Requirements for Approved Qualifications in Optometry and Dispensing Optics


COVID-19 Update

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on 7 August 2020 we approved temporary changes to the Optometry Handbook and the Supervision policy.

The term 'core competencies’ is used to describe the knowledge and skills an optometrist or dispensing optician must possess in order to register with us and practise in the UK.

There are core competencies in four areas of practice:

  • Optometry;
  • Dispensing optics;
  • Contact lenses (for dispensing opticians); and
  • Independent prescribing (for optometrists). 

To gain a qualification in optometry, dispensing optics, contact lenses or independent prescribing, students and trainees on GOC-approved programmes must demonstrate that they are proficient in the core competencies. 

The core competencies for each area of practice are published in our Education Handbooks. The Handbooks also contain the standards used by the GOC to approve and quality assure education and training programmes.


Acrobat Reader icon Optometry Handbook 2015

Acrobat Reader icon Optometry Competencies 2016



Dispensing opticians:

Acrobat Reader icon Dispensing Handbook 2011  

Acrobat Reader icon Dispensing Competencies 2016



Contact lens:

Acrobat Reader icon Contact Lens Handbook

Acrobat Reader icon Contact Lens Speciality Competencies 2016



Independent prescribing:

Acrobat Reader icon IP Handbook

Acrobat Reader icon Independent Prescribing Competencies 2016


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