Open College Network

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The Open College Network (OCN), also known as the National Open College Network (NOCN), is a grass roots movement developed to recognise informal learning achieved by adults.

The first organisation of this type was created in 1981 in Manchester and was known as the Manchester Open College Federation.[citation needed] Later as more organisations formed across the UK, the title Open College Network was adopted, each one distinguished by the geographical area it was based in.

The OCNs were the first accreditation bodies to use credit as the basis of the award system. Credit was established as the common currency for all OCN’s and consistent definitions of four levels of achievement were established.

Originally there were over 30 OCNs throughout the UK. Mergers between adjacent organisations eventually culminated in 2005 in the reduction in the number of OCNs to 9 in England, 1 in Wales (now Agored Cymru), and 1 in Northern Ireland.[citation needed]

The OCNs continue to offer credit-bearing courses and work-based learning programs, in a variety of centres including schools, colleges, voluntary organisations, community centres, trades unions, prisons, training providers, and employers.

The OCNs in England and Wales are all Access Validating Agencies recognised by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education[1] (QAA) for the award of Access to Higher Education Diplomas.[2]

In 2010/2011 all of the OCNs also became Awarding Organisations recognised by Ofqual.[3] Some have adopted new, replacement names including Open Awards,[4] Aim Awards,[5] Apt Awards[6] and Laser Learning Awards.[7] Others, including OCN London,[8] Open College Network West Midlands (previously OCNWMR),[9] OCNER,[10] OCNYHR,[11] have retained their historic OCN title in their names.

List of colleges that are accredited to offer OCN London courses.

Hove College


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