Blind fury over course axing

October 17, 1997

SCOTTISH eye specialists are warning of an impending recruitment problem if Glasgow Caledonian University abandons its BSc degree in orthoptics, writes Olga Wojtas.

The senate is set to consider a recommendation to axe the course, following a visit by the orthoptists' board of the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine. The council will also receive a report on the course, for which it has given only interim validation for the past two years following concerns about understaffing and course changes.

The university and orthoptists' board issued a joint statement expressing "great regret at this outcome", but did not outline the reasons for the decision. It is understood that the council wanted four rather than three state-registered orthoptists as full-time lecturers, but the university felt this would make the staff-student ratio unacceptably high at 1:7.5 from 1:10.

But local orthoptists say their work in treating visual defects will diminish if there is no training for the profession in Scotland.

Alison Buchanan, head orthoptist at Glasgow Eye Infirmary, said: "I think it will have a detrimental effect, since it will clearly reduce the numbers coming through the system. We are a very small profession as it is."

There are only two other orthoptics courses in Britain, at Liverpool and Sheffield universities.

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