Launch of the WCSM Education Trust Bursary Scheme
Following the transfer of direct training from the WCSM Education Trust to ABDO College, the Trustees this summer launched a new venture to fulfil their principal charitable aim, which is to advance study, knowledge and education in the field of optics for the public benefit.
In July 2016 the Trustees launched a pilot bursary scheme, aimed at students beginning training at a recognised UK institution with the intention of taking up an optical profession. Bursaries of £1,000 would be awarded – deliberately not enough to fund a whole programme of training but a sufficient amount to make a difference to someone’s first year of study. Candidates were asked to set out, within a word limit, what had inspired them to pursue an optical career, how they might use a bursary of £1,000 and where they expected to be in five years’ time.
The scheme was broadcast to all university departments and colleges offering full and part time training widely in optical fields and 240 applications flooded in. 10 different institutions were represented and the courses being taken up ranged from a WCSM Level 2 Certificate through foundation diplomas, to degrees in orthoptics and optometry.
After much discussion, the Trustees have awarded 25 bursaries of £1,000 each. The students concerned, and the academic staff in their various institutions, have all been delighted and the scheme was featured in Optometry Today.
The scheme does not end there. Successful bursary award winners are required to report back during the year. On the basis of those reports, at least one student will be invited to join Spectacle Makers at a Court Lunch, in the hope that they can learn from those around them, as well as understanding a little more about optics’ own Livery Company.
Professor Chris Hull, Chairman of the WCSM Education Trust, said “We are delighted at the success of the scheme in its first year. It is really important that we keep working to attract talented individuals into all branches of optics for the future of the profession. There were some inspiring applications amongst the 240 we received and we will watch the progress of the successful candidates with interest.”