Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - End of the collaboration between the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO)


When and why did the Collaboration take place?

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) joined in a partnership from August 2018 until June 2021. The objective of this collaboration was to benefit trainees and allow them to move through a more cost-effective and streamlined system, to achieve their goal of Membership and Fellowship of the RCSEd.


Why did the collaboration end?

The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected many areas of our lives, including examinations. Our candidates deserve the highest standards of assessment and the best and most modern methods of exam delivery. RCSEd, therefore, believe that we can best serve our global candidates by delivering our examinations online to ensure the safety of our candidates and the security of the assessment. 


Will my ICO exams still be honoured by RCSEd?

Yes – all three ICO exams (Visual Sciences; Optics, Refraction & Instruments; and Clinical Ophthalmology) passed between August 2018 and June 2021 will be recognised and accepted by RCSEd. Unfortunately, any ICO exams sat after June 2021 will not be recognised, as RCSEd will no longer be involved in the quality assurance of those exams.


If I have passed all of my examinations with ICO, am I eligible to become a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh?

Yes – Prior to 2019, candidates who had successfully completed the ICO Examinations of Basic Sciences, Optics and Refraction and Clinical Sciences and the ICO Advanced Examination (115 Questions) are eligible to apply for Membership (MRCSEd (Ophth)) with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

From 2019 candidates who have successfully completed the ICO Examinations of Visual Sciences, Optics, Refraction & Instruments and Clinical Sciences are eligible – and warmly welcomed - to apply for Membership (MRCSEd (Ophth)) with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.


If I have sat some of my examinations with RCSEd and some with ICO, am I eligible to become a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Yes – Candidates who had already successfully completed Part A and Part B of the FRCSEd Ophthalmology before 2020 are eligible for membership of RCSEd.

Candidates who successfully completed FRCSEd Part A Ophthalmology but hadn’t attempted FRCSEd Part B Ophthalmology are required to have passed the ICO Clinical Ophthalmology and ICO Advanced Examination (115 Questions), or passed the three newer exams introduced in 2019, in order to be awarded Membership (MRCSEd (Ophth) with Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.  


What if I have only passed some of my examinations with ICO?

Transition arrangements and reciprocity will be confirmed soon.


How much will it cost to join as a Member?

Applicants are charged, a one-off ‘petition for election’ fee to become a Member of the College. This costs £220 for international applicants and £150 for UK applicants. The payment can be processed in a number of ways: by telephone, cheque/bank draft or by credit or debit card.


Can I apply for GMC Registration if I hold MRCSEd (Ophth))?

Yes, but you will only have automatic exemption from the GMC’s requirement to pass the PLAB (Professional and Linguistics Assessment Board) if you passed the ‘old’ FRCSEd (Ophth) Part B with an OSCE element, or once you have progressed and completed the ‘new’ FRCSEd (Ophth). If you have taken the ICO exams to achieve membership of RCSEd, you will need to sit the PLAB if you wish to seek GMC registration. We recommend that you contact the GMC for more information on their process for registration and their list of acceptable qualifications for registration. You can visit their website at


Do RCSEd offer a Fellowship in Ophthalmology?

Yes - After gaining their MRCSEd (Ophth), candidates only need to pass the ICO Advanced 180 examination, have four years’ clinical practice and pass a face-to-face viva conducted by RCSEd examiners in order to qualify for the Fellowship in Ophthalmology; the FRCSEd (Ophth). This prestigious qualification allows candidates to apply for registration with the GMC directly, without the need to sit the PLAB. We had intended to begin offering diets of the FRCSEd (Ophth) in May 2020, but this has been interrupted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. We are hoping – subject to government policy – to run the first diets early next year.


Why should I join RCSEd?

By joining The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) as a Fellow or Member, you become part of a prestigious network of some 28,000 professionals in over 100 countries across the world. You are also welcomed into an organisation dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and advancement in surgical practice; and renowned for its friendliness and approachability.

The College is proud of its culture of innovation and is committed to supporting our membership throughout their careers. Fellowship or Membership of the College provides professional accreditation from one of the oldest, most prestigious and respected surgical bodies in the world. Fellowship and Membership of our College, first and foremost, is a professional qualification which indicates that a surgeon has gone through a rigorous process to ensure his or her professional competence.

With over 500 years of education, assessment and advancement of the profession of surgery, we pride ourselves on our exacting standards and the positive difference they make to patient outcomes and care. In addition to this mark of quality, which Fellowship and Membership of the Edinburgh College carries, we provide support for our membership on key professional issues and an impressive range of professional and personal benefits, during your career and beyond.


Where can I find more information?

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Examinations Department –

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Membership Department -


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