Would you do the honours?

Jane Timms FBDO
Course tutor and lecturer, Bradford College

The question of whether dispensing opticians need a bachelor’s degree or not has been raised in the past. Are the letters BSc (Hons) necessary to become a successful dispensing Optician (DO)? The simple answer is – no.

Indeed, many DOs make successful progress in their careers, having completed a Foundation Degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing (FdSc) at Bradford College.

However, is it worth considering a degree top-up? If you aspire to develop your critical thinking and research skills further and drive evidence-based practice in ophthalmic dispensing, then the answer is yes, absolutely.

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of students wishing to top-up their FdSc and FBDO qualification to BSc (Hons). What are the reasons for this? We asked three of our most recent graduates to answer the question.

Student perspective

A full-time student, originally enrolled on the FdSc programme, reflected on his experience: “Why did I choose to ‘top up’? Good question. Well, I have always wanted to gain a full bachelor’s degree, as I have seen it as an accomplishment and a major milestone in my academic career. I have always enjoyed studying and so I chose to stay and complete my BSc, rather than finish with the FdSc qualification; otherwise, I would have felt a little incomplete. Not to mention Covid, which closed a lot of options in terms of jobs towards the end of my second year. So it seemed like the perfect time to stay and complete my BSc. With this qualification, I would stand a much better chance in securing a job later on. The final year has allowed me to develop a lot of skills, such as time management, project planning and to reflect upon my future. I am glad that I stayed for the third year and I know that I have made the right decision. To sum it up in three words: employability, achievement and reflection.

Two part-time FdSc students, who worked as qualified DOs for several years prior to coming back to college whilst maintaining their employment throughout the top-up year, also offered their views.

Uwais writes: “The BSc (Hons) qualification allows a greater insight into management in optical practices. Any budding DO with a passion for entering management will find the modules in the top-up course very insightful, assisting greatly in preparation for interviews, as well as job prospects for the future. The lecturers [at Bradford College] make the course. They are always on hand to help and assist in any way possible and the quality of teaching is second to none. Tutorial sessions are readily available with an assigned tutor for the dissertation project and any causes for concern can be addressed with any lecturer. Overall, the top-up course is most definitely worth it for those with aspirations beyond being just a dispensing optician.”

Nicole says: “The tutors were all extremely accommodating and checked in with me regularly. I was even able to work four days per week throughout my studies. The online recorded lectures were fantastic; it meant that I never fell behind and it made revision much easier. Throughout the course, I have had amazing support. Despite the Covid-related challenges, the tutors adapted quickly and continued to teach high quality lectures and provided informative, prompt feedback on assignments. I thoroughly enjoyed returning to Bradford College to complete the BSc top-up degree and would absolutely recommend the learning experience.

There are a number of benefits in topping up your current qualification to an honours degree as it may open up further opportunities in the future. You will also be able to demonstrate to an employer that you have the academic, organisational and management skills needed for your chosen career path.

The endorsements from previous students demonstrate that the academic workload can be balanced with working in practice, and that the support provided by the virtual learning environment is exceptional.

For further information please get in contact with myself, course programme leader, by emailing j.timms@bradfordcollege.ac.uk