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Canberra students step on the accelerator


Manal Taleb is enrolled in the accelerated Bachelor of Vision Science course at the University of Canberra


By Rhiannon Riches
Communications Manager


The newly established Bachelor of Vision Science course at the University of Canberra has drawn several students from interstate.

Manal Taleb is one of a new cohort of students undertaking the accelerated Bachelor course, which will be completed in two and a half years. Manal then plans to complete her Master of Optometry, adding another one and a half years, for a total four years’ study.

‘I moved from Sydney to study optometry – quite a few of us have,’ she said.

‘There are about 45 students in first year – most are from interstate, some from as far away as Darwin – a lot are from rural areas and most are school-leavers,’ Manal said.

Manal is not a school-leaver; she completed her first degree in Journalism and Communications at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and worked in radio for a short period but could not find secure employment.

‘At the time, I had a friend studying Masters in Orthoptics at UTS, which was a two-year accelerated program. I applied and got in,’ she said. ‘It was intense but I loved it.’

Manal discovered the new Vision Science course at the University of Canberra while studying orthoptics at UTS.

‘I had to move out of home in Sydney, and I was considering my options. The only other orthoptics course was in Melbourne. When I started looking around, I discovered the new Vision Science course at the University of Canberra.

‘I had only completed one semester of orthoptics at UTS, and as orthoptics is linked to optometry, switching to the Vision Science course at University of Canberra was not a big leap,’ she said.

Manal plans to return to Sydney after completing her Master in Optometry, and potentially spend time overseas.

The creation of the optometry course is part of a wider development of University of Canberra’s health facilities. A $15 million Health Hub which hosts a GP Superclinic, pharmacy, pathology and student learning clinics was opened in 2014. The University of Canberra Public Hospital will open on the campus in 2018.

‘We’re excited we’re the first optometry students,’ Manal said.

Dr Nicola Anstice has been appointed as University of Canberra’s head of discipline for the new course. She was previously a senior lecturer in the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of Auckland.

Professor Harrison Weisinger has been appointed as Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra.

Professor Weisinger was Foundation Director of Optometry and Chair in Optometry at Deakin University from January 2011, until he resigned in July 2015 after the first cohort of students had completed their studies.

In 2015 he was appointed Global Professional Services Director at Specsavers, based in Melbourne. He still is a professor at Deakin University in addition to Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra.

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