As we enter autumn – generally regarded as the end of the growing season – we at ABDO ‘buck the trend’. In our case, autumn marks the association’s annual phase of expansion and evolution.

Firstly, we congratulate all of our newly qualified members who successfully passed their examinations this summer. These latest qualified DOs will see the number of fully qualified ABDO members exceed 6,000 for the first time. This is a huge milestone of which we are unbelievably proud.

Furthermore, we welcome new student members enrolling on dispensing courses throughout the UK. I am pleased to report this year a record number of students will attend ABDO College – some 750 students spread over the three years. This is in addition to those studying for further qualifications, including those enrolled on our contact lens, low vision and spectacle lens design programmes. From these numbers we can see that dispensing optics continues to be an attractive and rewarding vocation for many.

The above explains the expansion so what about the evolution?

A new development this autumn is the launch of our degree programme in conjunction with Canterbury Christ Church University for existing holders of the FBDO qualification. This new course will give FBDO qualified opticians the chance to acquire a BSc (Hons) degree entirely in their own time and at their own pace. The course is delivered online, for a fully flexible learning experience, ideal for those juggling a busy day job in practice with the demands of study. This degree programme offers DOs the opportunity to gain a degree in their chosen field that was perhaps not an option when they originally qualified.

As the new academic year begins, I wish everyone success whatever stage of study they are currently at.