European Diploma in Optometry
The legal scope of practice within the countries of ECOO varies from assembling spectacles to the autonomous management of eye disease. In the spirit of the Bologna declaration ECOO established the European Diploma in Optometry as a stimulus to the harmonisation of European optometric education and clinical practice.
The European Diploma is set at least at the Bachelor level in European Higher Education or equivalent and provides a qualification appropriate for optometric practice at Category 3 of the World Council of Optometry’s four categories model. The countries of ECOO have adopted the Diploma as the “Gold Standard” for European Optometry.
As harmonisation progresses an increasing number of schools and universities now base their curriculum on the Diploma. To foster this harmonisation ECOO has established an internal accreditation agency to invite training institutions to accredit or benchmark their programmes against the European Diploma. The intention is to allow for accreditation against the knowledge base, competencies and portfolio of the European Diploma in Optometry.
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Accreditation requirements for academic institutions
Only institutions teaching optometry or optics are eligible for accreditation. There must be at least one cohort of students who have completed the whole of the course. The visitors may be able to offer advice only on how the structure of new courses meet the requirements of the Qualification in Optics, this would assist with a future application for accreditation.
The accreditation is a competency and outcomes-based process, which is described in detail in the suite of Accreditation documents below.
The first step is to read all the Guidelines for Accreditation in detail:
- ECOO Guidelines – Part I: The ECOO Accreditation Scheme (PDF)
- ECOO Guidelines – Part II: The Self-Assessment Document (PDF)
- ECOO Guidelines – Part III: Portfolio Guidance for Training Institutions, Candidates and Examiners (PDF)
- ECOO Guidelines – Part IV: The Accreditation Visit (PDF)
- ECOO Guidelines – Part V: Continuing Accreditation & Re-accreditation (PDF)
- ECOO Guidelines – Part VI: Financial Aspects of Accreditation (PDF)
- ECOO Guidelines – Part VII: Potential Accreditation of European Diploma Candidates from non-accredited courses (PDF)
if you consider that you would like your institution to be accredited or benchmarked then you should contact the accreditation team (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will discuss the process and answer any questions about it.
The accreditation is a competency and outcomes-based process, which is based on the following Syllabus:
Accreditation process and timeline
Before the application process begins. An accreditation agreement will be signed between ECOO and the applicant to ensure all terms and conditions are clarified in advance between both parties. This will be sent to you upon request after your first conversation with the accreditation team.
Applicants for accreditation must complete the self-assessment document (Guidelines EQO Part II) which will then be considered by the Accreditation Panel. Once they are satisfied with the information, arrangements are made for a preliminary meeting with the institution (this may be in person on virtually online). This will lead to a preliminary opinion that provides a detailed overview of the areas to be revisited if needed.
Once the institution is ready to proceed, a full visit will be organised that will look at all aspects of the course in detail and entail interviews with students and staff. A final report is issued that outlines the accreditation status achieved. This may vary from full accreditation to partial accreditation, however always including detailed indications as to what the remaining gaps are to eventually move to full accreditation.
The timeline depends on the speed at which the institution is completing the various steps and the times at which the visits can be scheduled. ECOO also plans carefully its accreditation commitment and a plan will be discussed during your first interactions. The process can be as fast as 12-15 months but may also take several years if for instance a programme has not yet completed a full cycle.