Minister among the first to road test Teesside’s new optometry suite

The UK’s universities minister got to experience first-hand the new optometry facilities at Teesside University which will be used to help educate, train and retain optometrists in the region.

Chris Skidmore, minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, visited Teesside University in January to officially open the new £13.2m Student Life Building.

As part of his visit, he was given a tour of the University and underwent an eye test in the new purpose-built optometry suite.

Teesside University has developed a BSc (Hons) Clinical Optometry with sector partners to address the growing need for qualified optometrists in north east England.

It is the only optometry degree course in the region and students will be learning in the new optometry suite, designed to replicate the clinical setting in which optometrists work.

Commenting on social media after his visit, Chris Skidmore said: ‘As well as getting my eyes tested, I got the opportunity to sit down with students to discuss their work and meet staff in the new optometry department which is seeking to meet a huge geographical need.’

A unique element of the BSc (Hons) Clinical Optometry 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 region. 

Linda Nelson, associate dean (enterprise and business engagement) in the university’s School of Health & Social Care, said: ‘It was great to welcome the minister and take the opportunity to showcase our fantastic facilities.

‘Our optometry degree 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.’

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