Open University acquires Open College of the Arts

OCA, a provider of arts-focused distance learning, was established in 1987 by Open University co-founder, Michael Young

The Open University (OU) has agreed a takeover of the Open College of the Arts (OCA).

A non-profit educational charity offering open and flexible distance learning, the OCA previously saw its degrees awarded by the University for the Creative Arts.

The OU has acquired OCA as a wholly owned subsidiary institution and separate legal entity, with the first enrolments of OCA-taught students onto OU-awarded programmes slated for August next year.

While both institutions are distance learning providers, the OCA’s specific charitable purpose is to widen participation in arts education. It claims that more than 20% of its circa 2,000 students have a declared disability, while many more are from disadvantaged backgrounds or without qualifications.

“OCA and its courses are a very complementary fit to the OU,” said Professor Ian Fribbance, executive dean of the OU’s faculty of arts and social sciences.

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“The acquisition provides the opportunity to strengthen and broaden our presence as a leading global provider in an exciting and developing arts curriculum, particularly in the fields of visual, applied and graphic arts,” he added.

“[OCA’s] reach across the UK’s four nations offers real opportunities to bring the study of creative arts to many new learners and new groups of people, and in the future we can develop new curriculum together; a tremendous prospect for the creative industries. I look forward to welcoming OCA students into the OU family and we will do everything we can to make that transfer as smooth as possible.”

OCA was established in 1987 by Michael Young, a co-founder of the OU 18 years earlier.

“The Open University and Open College of the Arts share a unique history in open access distance learning,” said Will Woods, principal and CEO at OCA. “I’m very excited by this new collaboration with the world-leading distance learning provider.

“It’s an opportunity to develop pathways into growth disciplines and to stimulate vocational and economic growth, giving more learners the opportunity to achieve a professional career in the creative arts.”

Pic: OU graduation ceremony

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