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The Open University announces new acquisition

Following positive discussions with the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), the Open University is pleased to announce an agreement has been reached that will see the OU acquire the Open College of the Arts (OCA).

The OU was set up in 1969 to bring life-changing learning that enriches society to millions who otherwise would miss out on the opportunity to access quality, supported and flexible education.

One of the OU’s founders, Michael Young, went on to set up the Open College of the Arts in 1987 and, following extensive discussions including approval by Senate and Council, the university has acquired OCA as a wholly owned subsidiary institution, a separate legal entity but working very closely with colleagues in the OU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). 

OCA became a part of the University for the Creative Arts in 2016 but is now transferring ownership to The Open University.

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. I look forward to welcoming OCA students into the OU family and we will do everything we can to make that transfer as smooth as possible.”

Will Woods, Principal and Chief Executive Officer at OCA, said:

“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.” 

Professor Simon Macklin, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Portfolio Development and Global Engagement) at UCA, said:

“UCA and the OCA part ways richer having exchanged expertise and knowledge over our five-year partnership. As UCA continues to reimagine its portfolio and enhance its student experience, the new partnership with the OU offers the OCA an opportunity to further its own unique vision. We look forward to working closely with the OU, OCA and its students to ensure a seamless transition.”

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

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