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Student Fees from August 2023 - The Open College of the Arts

To find out more details about the transfer to The Open University see A New Chapter for OCA.

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Student Fees from August 2023

We are announcing today the fees which will apply in the next academic year (from 01 August 2023 to 31 July 2024). The aim is to continue to keep fees affordable for students whilst maintaining the high quality provision the students expect from OCA.

Our organisational costs are rapidly increasing, due to both inflation which is being felt around the world, and costs associated with our move to The Open University. To mitigate the increase in costs in staffing, logistics, estates, services, and course production we are increasing tuition fees. With The Open University, there will be additional benefits for students, however the internal service charges will be higher than those under the University for the Creative Arts as The Open University will be providing extended services.

In 2021 we introduced a new fee structure, established in consultation with the Student Association, which was created to provide a more transparent structure with changes to the cost per credit for all students at all course levels (also known as stages).

We have taken that feedback from last year on board when looking at our fee structure for 2023/24. We know that you value transparency around reasoning, expenditure, and value for money in your studies. We explored aligning international student and UK student fees but this is not currently possible to do so under the current economic conditions.

Student Fees 2023/24

For UK students in the forthcoming academic year, each credit studied at undergraduate level will be £41.25 per credit (£37.50 in 2022/23). So for a 40 credit unit this equates to £1,650, or £2,475 for a 60 credit unit. (10% increase)

For International students in the forthcoming academic year, each credit studied at undergraduate level will be £47.25 per credit (£43 in 2022/23). So for a 40 credit unit this equates to £1,890, or £2,835 for a 60 credit unit. (10% increase)

At postgraduate level the cost per credit for new cohorts beginning in 2023 is £49.50 (£45 in 2022/23), so each 60 credit unit is £2,970 for UK students; and for students outside the UK £66 (£60 2022/23) per credit, so each 60 credit unit is £3,960. (10% increase).

Foundation courses will increase to £1,025 (£935 in 2022/23) for UK-based students and £1,175 (£1,075 in 2022/23) for international students.

Short courses will increase to £335 (£305 in 2022/23), these fees apply to all UK-based and international students.


Increasing tuition fees is, at the moment, the only way for OCA to cover the increasing costs that we are facing. We do not receive additional funding in the form of external grants or sponsorship, which we are aiming to rectify in the coming year. By diversifying our income we aim to reduce the pressure to increase the fees you pay.

OCA courses have moved through periodic review and refreshment, to an improved and more comprehensive format of three modules at all three levels. This has been costly to implement however the beneficial change should lead to more students than ever before achieving success through OCA.

We recognise that for some students there are financial difficulties through this cost of living crisis so we are increasing the amount of hardship funding available for students who may struggle to pay fees. We are also increasing the criteria and number of funding applications which are considered, therefore making a greater number of students eligible for structured bursaries and support to study.

The College remains committed to working with the student association to enhance study support and student communications, and are currently investing in these areas. In addition, we have given students increased engagement time with more opportunity for tutor-led peer sessions such as group critiques.

Fee increases are still unwelcome, especially with the inflation levels we are experiencing in the UK during this cost-of-living crisis. We are working very hard to minimise the impact of these increases. We will be working with The Open University to create new financing options for students; OCA students in the UK nations will have increased access to funding routes, including in Scotland.

Will Woods
Principal (OCA)


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Posted by author: Will Woods

24 thoughts on “Student Fees from August 2023

  • As part of this price increase will there be a review of tutors. So far with the OCA it seems like pot luck whether you get a tutor that is really invested in what you are doing. I’ve had two really good tutors, one not so great so far. Often I’ve felt left out on my own and really having paid for a pretty expensive PDF (we don’t even get a printed copy anymore which was nice when I started).

    Tutors are a fundamental part and because distance learning means there are no lectures, getting a tutor that seems like they are invested and that there time with you at the OCA is a ‘side-gig’ can give me a bit of a sinking feeling. Also, one thing I think I’ve noticed is that when you get a new tutor they do not appear to have any idea of what you have done before in your studies so it feels like a blank slate each time!

    • Hi Luke, The new 3×3 units have been designed to address many of the issues you’ve raised. In particular, moving OCA away from distance learning centred around fixed PDF resources, to online delivery with all that can offer. There’s a lot more interactive content and lectures in the new model, as well as more integrated group activities. As Will has already commented on, our academic staffing has also changed to help support the new 3×3 units. We have tried to move the emphasis onto team teaching and away from relying on a single tutor, so there are more academic voices to hear from. I hope that helps deal with your sinking feeling! I appreciate you may still be on the teach out units, so talk to your Programme Leader about what might be available to you from the new material and support.

  • Hi Luke, thanks for your comment. OCA made a commitment to teaching staff last year, creating new contracts for tutors and establishing permanent teaching roles with the introduction of programme tutors. We continue to increase the number of programme tutors who account for around 80% of of the core teaching staff at OCA. This was the single biggest investment in staff in the history of OCA. We feel, like you, that tutors are at the heart of the teaching experience and the new curriculum model (3×3) and methods of teaching including groupwork sessions and activities provide a better foundation for student success. We are already seeing more students than ever undertaking assessment through OCA. If you find that you don’t have the support you need through the team at OCA then please contact us through the support routes and we will investigate.

  • I cant find any information about how the fee increase will apply to continuing students. For instance, I’m completing my level 3 with SYP, registering to begin at the end of June. Will the new fees apply?

  • I think, like Luke said above there needs to be more interaction from OCA. I am extremely disappointed with the amount of group work (or lack of it) available and hope this can be addressed.

    I am starting the final course of my first year and have attended all of the workshops on offer (some twice) and am only left with ‘drop in’ sessions designed as a social space which for me don’t work well on zoom.

    With an increase in fees I think you really need to offer more practical workshops in lieu of actual classes to eliminate the feeling that we are paying for a PDF. For example I have just completed the Printing 1 unit and it would have been so useful to have classes on some of the techniques covered (lino cutting, cine colle, collographs etc), rather than having to head over to YouTube to learn them.

    I also agree that all tutors should have some knowledge of the work you have done in previous units, as how are they meant to assess improvement, style or room for improvement if they have no idea where you started. Some continuity in this aspect would be useful.

    • Hi Charlotte, Yes, good points. The new 3×3 units have been designed to address many of the issues you’ve raised. The learning materials are more interactive with a lot more video content, group activities are a core element throughout the unit, and there’s more continuity between units and academic staff. When you finish your final unit of stage one, you’ll move onto the new 3×3 units. We have tried to make as many resources as possible available to our teach out students, like yourself, so talk to your Programme Leader about what you can access now.

  • While I understand the massive costs involved in providing quality distance learning courses, I feel it is unfair to keep increasing fees for existing students (who have budgeted carefully for their degrees. This will be the second rise in fees since I started two years ago. I wonder how much is it going to cost by the end of my studies and whether my savings will hold out!?). Would it not be fairer to use a ‘fixed price’ for students signing up to a degree, and raise fees for new students?

    • Hi Kate, if we did not increase fees across the board we would end up with a situation where new students effectively subsidize students who started before them. Unfortunately, the cost of delivery is the same whether you are an existing student or a new student. Where we can not increase fees we do (like for example during the pandemic) but the last two years we have seen exceptional price increases, plus heavy investment in teaching delivery and the transition to The Open University. We are still much cheaper than any other provider, and if we want to improve the services we offer, as students have asked us to, then we have to increase fees to match.

  • I have to agree with Lukes comments. Paying for a overpriced PDF that isn’t in a physical form like it has been. Lack of interaction with tutors is shocking from my perspective. I’ve had probably 5 tutor tuturials since starting level two courses. Level one was pretty well balanced compared to this. A lack of tutors doesn’t help a student having to wait for feedback all the time prior to moving on. I’m not overly sure I’ll do another unit if all I’m paying for is a PDF and word documents of feedback !

    • Hi Thomas, if you are having issues with tutors then we want to know. You can either raise this with your Programme Leader, or you can contact [email protected] and we’ll look into the issue. We expect the highest standards from our tutors , and where that is not happening we need to know.

      • I think the issue is you have a lack of tutors to support students.
        I’ve have contacted tutor and program leader. Level 2 seems to be an issue for a few students on my course. 2.2 is new and doesn’t seem to have the support from tutors compared to previous units.

        • Hi Thomas – The level of tutor support in the new units should be exactly the same as the old units. Its 6 hours of contact time plus group activities. Your new 2.2 unit will offer the same amount, though it is divided up into smaller elements. So there’s generally more tutorials and fewer feedback reports. Group activities are also ‘baked in’, so there should be more on offer and more consistently delivered through forums and live sessions. Academic staffing might well be an issue, as you suggest. I’ll look into it, and as Craig has suggested contact your Programme Leader to discuss too.

  • This is really, really disappointing. I can barely afford it now, especially as I pay for both the first two HE6 courses at once. I do understand, but the fact that I had to send email after email to register on HE6 and couldn’t progress for 3 months due to delays and basic admin errors at the Uni end (no one answering phone, messages not answered, basic radio silence and then being assigned the wrong tutor for progression interview) means that the delay ends up costing me more. Fair? No.

  • Thank you for the feedback. I’m going to ask the Head of the support teams to answer on points about tuition and support however I would say that we’ve invested in systems and support staff alongside increasing the amount of groupwork for students to provide support to you as part of the OCA move to the Open University and you will feel the benefits of this from August. Regarding the cost of a degree at OCA, this remains substantially lower than any of our competitors in UK higher education accredited learning and I suggest that if you haven’t done so you check the fees for OU and Arden and others for teaching creative subjects and compare to OCA fees. Creative Arts remains one of the most expensive areas to teach. OCA’s costs are increasing and fees are the only way to maintain the services. The trustees have thought very carefully around this when setting fees. If you want to have your say directly to the OCA trustees about current and future fees (or indeed anything else at OCA) then I would encourage you to participate in the Student Association and represent your views directly to them. If you want to know more about that then contact the association and join in https://www.ocasa.org.uk/

  • I’m a new-ish student, having completed the Foundation in Painting and I am now coming towards the end of the first unit of Level One of the Degree in Painting (‘Drawing for Painting’).

    Like other students, I’m wondering how expensive studying with the OCA might get over the coming years. It is a real, sad worry that students may feel they have to drop out, or be put off studying with OCA.

    However, as well as registering/adding my concern, I also wanted to add my praise for the OCA tutors. Plus, I feel I’m getting more for my money than just pdf course instructions. That said, I agree that students need more ‘how to’ resources, and I think there is potential for even more online …

    Anyway, regarding tutors: I’ve only had one personal tutor so far, but have interacted with a number of others, and all have impressed me. I’m really happy to get the one-to-one, conversational contact with my tutor each month as well as written feedback, and it has all been very helpful.

    In the last nine months, I’ve attended a number of optional Zoom lectures by OCA tutors, and presentations by graduating students. Again, all very useful. I’m looking forward to more, please! (And recordings of OCA tutor lectures available online would be great too.)

    Plus, I attend the monthly Studio meeting as often as I can, and always pick up useful information.

    I know that my course fee also covers my share of the ‘behind the scenes’ admin and management, including the work that goes into keeping OCA Learn and OCA Spaces running. As a relatively non-techy person (who doesn’t even have a smart phone), I’m impressed with the simplicity of OCA Spaces. And then there’s the money that funds OCASA activities, which I admit I haven’t taken part in … yet.

    Re Charlotte’s point about group work: I’ve been similarly disappointed that my two opportunities to meet up with my peers during this first course didn’t work out. (I was the only person to turn up for the first one, and there were only two of us at the second. That said, the tutor gave me/us a full hour of discussion and feedback each time.) I understand that the way this is organised is being looked into.

    • Hi Penny, thanks for the positive response. We are (slowly) transitioning from distance learning, with PDFs and feedback reports, to online delivery with all the digital possibilities that it offers.
      As you have highlighted, group activities and an easy to use learning environment are integral parts of this. Our newer units have made much more of online learning, with more interactive content and group activities as an integral part of the course. Students are making the transition too, so we’re still learning about when to best run the live sessions, how to increase numbers, and what students want from them. If you want to help shape what we can offer, then talk to your Programme Leader. I’m sure Emma Drye would be interested to hear your experiences too. Thanks

      • Hi I don’t to take up too much time, happily busy with my OCA! but I would like to clarify something please, you mention the slow transition from distance learning, PDFs and feedback to an online delivery. Do you mean Zoom calls for example?
        I do not want to participate in those type of studies, will the PDF and feedback still be available for those who prefer it. I am still on my first year of studies so how slow is slow, do?

        • Online delivery is partly moving away from PDFs to online content, to make the content more accessible, and partly offering a broader range of support. This includes online forums, video tutorials as you mentioned, and group discussions. You can opt for written reports, and engage in the forum elements without having to appear on screen. I would highly recommend engaging with the video tutorials and group activities though, as these offer a much richer level of support.

          ‘Slow’ means you will need to complete your first stage of study before moving onto the new curriculum (and the online learning) at stage two. So it all depends how quickly you finish stage one. In the meantime, you might want to talk to your fellow students through the forums, to get a sense of how the new online curriculum actually works and feels.

      • I too am very positive about my experience so far in my first OCA course – Fine Art UPM. It has been very flexible, which is one of my requirements, and my tutor has been very understanding and supportive.
        One problem I have had is how to make the best of the tutor time available. I asked about this early on and was advised to take part in group work, which I have done and have found it very helpful both for the sense of student community and for stimulating teaching and feedback. However, Penny’s mention of monthly conversations with her tutor makes me realise that I actually don’t know how the personal tutor system works apart from formal feedback on assignments (which I have enjoyed and found very encouraging). Is there a clear statement about this somewhere?

        • Hi Beryl
          I’m glad to hear the group activities and formal feedback have both been useful. The support we are offering with the new curriculum means each unit will be different. So Penny’s learning experiences might be different to yours, depending on what units or degrees you are both doing. Look to your Programme for a clear statement for what is being offered. This might be in your Department Space on OCA Learn, or ask your Programme Leader if you can’t find it. For further clarity, each element, such as tutorials, group activities, and feedback reports are described in the Tuition Policy (https://www.oca.ac.uk/about-us/our-policies/). I hope that helps.

  • I understand the need to counter the inflation and payment for permanent staff. I have to say that I find the post Covid moves toward more online activities have been a fabulous development. At least within the Textiles department it is working very well. Better and more precise support than before. Thanks you for that. Also the occasional support we have had for our regional group (the EU group) has been instrumental in a feeling of an improving and high quality seen from my chair. That said the only ‘question’ or less understandable thing for me is that we as students outside UK have to pay so much more, now that we no longer send physical boxes back and forth for assessment and at enrolment. Is it a choice or a legal demand that is upholding this hard to understand price difference? BW Inger

  • Hi Inger
    I’m glad to hear the new developments in Textiles are working well for you. These are exactly the reasons why we brought the changes in – to offer more support, to build a stronger learning community, and to allow different subjects to teach in different ways. Textiles have taken a lead in offering more group activities, and as you say, this is working really well. In terms of the international fees, I’ve asked Will to respond to this directly. Thanks

  • Hi, Why do non Uk based students pay more in fees than UK students. The OCA is not brick and mortar, but totally online. Further, as a Canada based student I am at a disadvantage being unable to attend face-to face UK OCA sanctioned study events and groups and yet I pay more. Thank you, Mary

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