About Us

Our Story

We are the Open College of the Arts. An open access, distance learning provider of higher education courses based in Barnsley, UK.

We were created by Michael Young in 1987, one of the founders of the Open University, to offer high quality arts courses as a means to transform lives, with the opportunity to develop and express creative talents under the guidance of experienced artists.

An OCA qualification, be that a degree, Certificate or Diploma in Higher Education, or undergraduate credit, can be a huge achievement for many and opens the doors to new careers, or new lifestyles built around the arts.

Over 2000 people study with us every year as part of a truly global community representing 67 nationalities worldwide on 13 degree programmes and one Masters. We reach people in every walk of life, with over 20% of our students having a declared disability, and many students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and with no qualifications.

Our students come from every walk of life imaginable, fitting work, family, caring responsibilities and everything else alongside study and more besides.

OCA’s community consists of students, practitioners and tutors working together, offering encouragement, creative criticism, hints, tips, insights and ideas. A community invested time, running events, social media groups, meet-ups in places as diverse as London and Glasgow, Newport and Scunthorpe, you’ll feel at home as part of the OCA.

Changing and Growing

In 2016, we became part of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), delivering distance learning arts courses, degrees and Masters across the globe, with more to offer than ever before.

In 2019, UCA was named Modern University of the Year by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, and is ranked number #13 on the UK’s Guardians University League Table. As a core function of the university, this means that OCA is part of the number #1 specialist arts universities in the UK today.

Looking forward, we are introducing new degrees, new short courses, and other methods of accessing the arts, so that you can harness your creativity, no matter where you are and be supported in reaching your goals.

See how we work together

Our mission

To be at the forefront of student-led creative arts education through open, enhanced, & supported distance learning, for an evolving society.

Our Partner, the UCA, aligns with this; to be recognised as a global authority on creative arts, creative technologies and business for the creative industries.

OCA and UCA together form a significant partnership in Digital Pedagogy, through collaboration in course production, creating rich online learning environments, through the use of resources and technologies to enhance learning and teaching.

See our strategy

Our Tutors

All the Open College of the Arts tutors are practising artists, photographers, designers, writers or composers and are experienced teachers at HE level.

Their combination of professional expertise with a strong background in teaching is a key strength of the OCA.

Meet our tutors

Our Staff

The OCA Team keep things running smoothly, and are always on hand to help.

Meet our staff

Contact Us

Have a question about the OCA, or our range of creative arts courses? Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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