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UK: The Open University to acquire the Open College of the Arts

The Open University (OU), a UK-based academic institution that specialises in flexible distance learning, is acquiring the Open College of the Arts (OCA).

Headquartered in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, the OCA was set up by one of the OU’s founders, Michael Young, in 1987. It became a part of the University for the Creative Arts in 2016 but is now transferring ownership to the OU.

The first enrolments of OCA taught students onto OU awarded programmes will take place from 1 August 2023.

Since its inception in 1969, the OU has taught more than 2 million students worldwide. It currently has over 170,000 current students, including around 15,000 overseas.

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

“Its 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.”

Will Woods, principal and chief executive at OCA, commented: “The Open University and Open College of the Arts share a unique history in open access distance learning. 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.

“OCA is extremely grateful to the University for the Creative Arts for the support the College has received over the past five years, allowing both organisations to develop and enabling us to pursue our own strategic direction.”

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