Metropolia’s degree in optometry receives international accreditation 

Metropolia University of Applied Sciences is the first internationally accredited optometry education provider in Finland. In connection with the accreditation process, the quality of teaching has been enhanced by, for example, moving to completely new premises on the Myllypuro Campus and renewing the equipment.

The European Council of Optometry and Optics (ECOO) has granted international accreditation to Metropolia’s degree in optometry. The ECOO is the only European body to accredit degrees in optometry from educational institutions that meet high quality standards in four different areas. Five optometry degrees in Europe, including those in Sweden and Norway, have been awarded the same accreditation.

With this accreditation, Metropolia is entitled to award the European Diploma in Optometry (EDO) to a person who has first passed the optometric examination and then conducted and reported 150 eye examinations (visual status). The diploma facilitates recognition of the degree abroad and is a valuable proof of the competence and activity in the home country of the person who has obtained the degree.

The purpose of accreditation is to harmonise European optometric education and clinical practice, thereby improving the comparability of degrees and the mobility of the workforce between countries. Optometrists graduating from an accredited degree programme will be able to apply for professional qualifications in all European Union member states. 

“I congratulate Metropolia’s degree in optometry on achieving the accreditation. The news comes at an excellent time, as the Finnish government has just decided to eliminate historic restrictions on the practice of optometry. The accreditation shows that Finnish optometry excels in the EU. As the competence and knowledge acquired by the accredited degrees can be used in other Nordic countries and Central Europe to safely examine children under the age of eight and to participate in eye care treatment and diagnostic pathways, it is clear that it can be done in Finland as well,” says Panu Tast, CEO of Finnish Association of Vision and Eyecare NÄE ry.

In addition to Metropolia, optometric education in Finland is provided by Oulu University of Applied Sciences. The universities have worked together to harmonise degrees. The degreed of Oulu University of Applied Sciences has partial accreditation.

Accreditation requires long-term work and operational development

In Metropolia’s accreditation process, the degree in optometry was assessed by interviewing students and staff, visiting the training activities, facilities and equipment, and observing teaching. As part of the accreditation process, Metropolia introduced a post-graduate process in which graduating optometrists conduct and report a total of 150 eye examinations.

“The completion of the accreditation process is a significant recognition, both nationally and internationally, of the quality of Metropolia’s optometric education and enables international comparability of degrees in Europe. The accreditation process started in 2014 with a curriculum change of the optometry degree programme, which resulted in a partially accredited degree. The process continued with, among other things, the opening of the VillageOPTICIAN Store on Metropolia’s Myllypuro Campus. The move to the completely new premises on Myllypuro Campus and the renewal of the equipment strengthened the quality of teaching,” says Saija Flinkkilä, optometry degree supervisor at Metropolia.

Heidi Stenberg, head of the Metropolia’s rehabilitation and research department, says it is worth noting that Metropolia`s degree is only the sixth degree in optometry to be fully accredited in Europe. 

“The accreditation demonstrates a high European level of quality and competence of the graduates of Metropolia Optometry. For this, special thanks go to all the teachers of optometry education,” says Stenberg.

The accreditation of Metropolia was decided by the ECOO European Qualifications Board in Helsinki on Thursday 9 May 2024, coinciding with the European Academy of Optometry and Optics conference, the largest optometry education event in Europe. This once-a-year event brings together opticians, optometrists, researchers, and educational institutions from all over Europe. The programme is based on the latest scientific research in optometry.

“I warmly congratulate Metropolia’s degree programme in optometry on this significant achievement. The accreditation is a concrete demonstration of the high quality of Finnish optometric education today and emphasises the importance of the future development of the whole field”, says Riikka Torvela, Chairperson of the Board, Finnish Professionals of Optometry – Soa.

ECOO accreditors front row from left: Dr Sonja Zinken Utrecht University (Netherlands);
Dr José Manuel González Meijome, University of Minho (Portugal); Dr Julie-Ann Little, University of Ulster (Northern Ireland); Dr Brendan Barrett, University of Bradford (England).
Back row, from left: Mira Järvinen, Päivi Nokipii, Saija Flinkkilä, Johanna Valtanen, Pia Mäkelä, Satu Autio, Kajsa Sten and Tanja Lehti.

An optometrist is an expert in vision and eye health  

In Metropolia’s optometry programme, students learn about the diverse and fascinating field of optometry. An optometrist works as an expert in direct contact with clients, guiding and advising clients on vision and vision problems and their correction. An optometrist acts as an optician, conducts vision examinations, fits and prescribes spectacles, contact lenses and low vision aids. Graduates are able to assess the health of the eyes and refer clients to an ophthalmologist if necessary. 

Students that have graduated with the degree in optometry (University of Applied Sciences) work as health care professionals with the title of optician licensed by National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health – Valvira

Additional information: 

Panu Tast 
Managing Director, Finnish Association of Vision and Eyecare NÄE ry  

Saija Flinkkilä 
Optometry examiner, Metropolia  

More information on optometry: 
Riikka Torvela 
Chairperson of the Board, Finnish Professionals of Optometry – Soa