Raising concerns about an education programme

Who can raise a concern?

Anyone can raise concerns to us about a GOC-approved qualification. We take all concerns about GOC-approved qualifications seriously and manage them in accordance with our Reportable Events and Changes policy. 

Before you contact us  

In the first instance, you should raise your concerns through your education provider’s formal complaints process. This gives them a chance to consider your concerns and address them.  

We won’t normally consider your complaint unless you have exhausted the provider’s complaints process prior to approaching us, except if the issue is so serious as to merit immediate referral. For example, if there is an immediate patient or public safety issue or illegal practice. 

We can only consider concerns which fall within our statutory remit, including those related to compliance with our Education Standards 

We can’t consider complaints about: 

  • admission decisions 
  • assessment results and appeals 
  • progression decisions 
  • the application of reasonable adjustments, for example. 

These types of complaints should be directed to the education provider in the first instance, who will be able to explain internal and external appeal mechanisms. We are unable to hear appeals nor direct a provider to change the outcome of their decisions. 

What happens after you contact us 

If you raise a concern about an education programme or qualification, we: 

  1. will acknowledge your concern, provided we have your contact details.  
  2. will review the concern and confirm whether the matters raised are within our remit (for example that the qualification complained about is GOC approved). 
  3. will consider the concern in relation to the standards we expect providers of GOC approved qualifications to meet.  
  4. may ask the provider for its response to the issue(s) raised. Please note, to enable them to respond, at this stage we may need to share identifiable details of the concern with the provider. 

We will keep you updated on any action(s) we take. At any stage, we may also ask you for more information.  


If we consider that our standards are potentially not being met by the provider, we will investigate further using our quality assurance processes. If we decide not to investigate, we’ll let you know and will explain our reasons.  

If we find that a provider is not meeting our standards, we can:  

  • set conditions which must be met for the provider to maintain GOC qualification approval; and/or 
  • open a serious concerns review, which allows us to have a closer oversight of the provider during the improvement period. Should a provider not meet our standards, nor make the required improvements, we may decide to withdraw our approval of the qualification.  

What can you expect when raising a concern with us 

We will look into your concern as quickly as we can. The more relevant information you provide, often the more quickly we will be able to consider your concern.  

We appreciate that raising a concern may be daunting. Please see our ‘Speaking up’ guidance to help you consider options when speaking up, or when thinking of doing so. If you need support while we look into your concern, there are organisations that can help you, such as MIND for example, as well as support from student unions and professional membership bodies. 

We may not always be able to provide the outcome or answer you want, but we do want to learn from your experience of raising a concern with us and we’ll use your feedback to improve our services. 

Data and information 

In order to fulfill our statutory duties under the Opticians Act 1989, we need to process personal information. This includes disclosing, sharing and publishing personal information when it is in the public interest to do so. For example, providing sufficient information for a provider to respond to a concern.  

We do this with careful consideration of our information responsibilities, under the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), the Human Rights Act (HRA) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), to ensure that our use of personal data is lawful, properly controlled and that an individual's rights are respected. 

You can find more information about our approach here: Data and freedom of information at the GOC 

If a concern or complaint is raised anonymously, we will consider if we are able to investigate based on the information available and will try to respond where possible. 

Contact us with your complaint or concern 

To raise a concern or make a complaint about an education provider, you can: 

If we can make any reasonable adjustments to enable you to raise a complaint or concern, please let us know.