A creative arts degree next?

I have to confess to being one of those addicted to browsing prospectuses. Long ago it wasn’t really a problem as there really wasn’t much chance of me upping sticks to move somewhere or other just to do a course but these days it’s different as there are dozens of universities around the world collectively offering thousands of different courses in a distance learning format ie you can do them from pretty much anywhere.

The selection of courses available in this kind of format has grown dramatically over the years with, apparently, the only frontier remaining being medicine although even there you can pick up nursing level qualification; it’s just that you can’t get to be a doctor that way. You can actually pick up doctorates by distance learning (real ones that is, not the “send us $250 and we’ll send you your qualification” variety) but seemingly in just about every field apart from medicine.

Just recently I came across the arts equivalent of the Open University which is the Open College of the Arts which offers a creative arts degree with specialisms ranging from art history to painting. Now, I would have expected the art history and writing specialisms (also offered by the OU) in that they’re clearly doable at a distance. However, it was surprising to see that you can also so painting and sculpture this way too and from the beginner level too. Even more surprising was the geographic spread of people doing courses with them with people from seemingly every corner of the globe if a scan of their forum is any guide (yes, I know, distance learning places should be global, but usually they aren’t). Price-wise it seems broadly similar to the OU but the tutorials operate rather differently with one to one tuition being the norm although groups do form to extend the tuition time when in-person tution is offered (overall it works out around £4000 for the degree). It also seems to operate a much freer approach to the courses with up to two years in principle to do each module vs the very fixed timetable of the OU and there don’t seem to be fixed start dates either.

Interestingly, it was Baron Young who was behind both these organisations and got the OCA going when the OU figured that teaching degree level creative arts wasn’t possible. On a separate note he was also the guy behind the Consumers’ Association… ’tis quite an achievement to be behind three organisations of that calibre but they’re merely three from quite a long list of rather significant outfits that he had a hand in forming.

I’m very tempted by the writing and painting specialisms. Still, it’s the first time I’ve had a leaf through their offerings so it might be a while before I get around to signing up (it was 16 years between first read of an OU prospectus and doing the first course for me!).

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