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The Open College of the Arts

The Open College of the Arts

The Open College of the Arts


Our Story

The Open College of the Arts was founded in 1987 by Michael Young, Lord Young of Dartington, the driving force behind numerous citizen-centred and educational initiatives such as the Consumers Association, the National Extension College and the Open University.

Young’s original vision was to offer the general public the chance to take high-quality arts courses by distance learning education, without prior qualifications or restrictions. He saw the OCA as a means of transforming people’s lives, giving them the opportunity and skills to express their creative talents under the guidance of professional artists. We still live by those values.

Today the OCA is a thriving educational charity whose charitable purpose is to widen participation in arts education. Over 2000 students each year now study creative and visual arts courses and degrees by open learning with us. OCA strategy is determined by a Board of Trustees. Our head offices are on the site of a former colliery in Barnsley, South Yorkshire and all of our tutors work from their homes or studios.

OCA is part of the University for the Creative Arts

The University for the Creative Arts (UCA) is one of the UK’s leading specialist universities offering a range of courses in art, architecture, communications, design and media across five campuses in the South East of England. Graduates include Zandra Rhodes, Karen Millen and Tracey Emin.On 1 November 2016, the Open College of the Arts became part of the University for the Creative Arts. This merger built on a close working relationship established in 2010.

The Students’ Association (OCASA)

When you enrol you become part of the OCA Student Association (OCASA), who acts as the voice of students. The college takes student representation seriously. The OCASA president attends our board meetings so the student's voice is heard at the highest levels.


  • Barnsley

    Redbrook Business Park Wilthorpe Road, S71 1ET, Barnsley