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.

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. And we will continue to work to ensure that more students than ever before have the opportunity to access Higher Education, focussing on improving access for BAME students, and from the poorest areas in society.

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

Joining OCA is joining that community. A community of peers, students and tutors working together, offering encouragement, creative criticism, hints, tips, sharing ideas. A community investing time, running events, social media groups, meet-ups in places as diverse as London and Glasgow, Newport and Scunthorpe.

Our charitable mission is to be at the forefront of student-led creative arts education through open, enhanced, and supported distance learning, for an evolving society.

Changing and Growing

In order to serve our student community, and wider society better, OCA also evolves. In 2016 we became part of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), delivering distance learning degrees and Masters. In 2019, UCA was named Modern University of the Year by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, with OCA having played an important part in that.

Looking forward, we are introducing new degrees, new short courses, and other methods of accessing the arts, so that people can harness their creativity, no matter where you are, or what your goal is.

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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