About us

NOCN is a leading credit-based awarding organisation that has been creating opportunities for students and learners for over 25 years. We’re trusted and recognised by learners, educational organisations and employers.

National Open College Network (renamed NOCN from October 2013) was set up in 1987 as the national body for the various regionally based open college federations and access organisations. In 2000 we became the recognised awarding organisation for all regulated Open College Networks (OCNs) in the UK.

With the support of NIACE, NOCN developed the regionally based small number of Open College Federations and access organisations into a single Open College Network with a new and consistent structure to the qualifications. In 1987 there were seven organisations or initiatives; four of which were in London. By the year 2000 there were 31 organisations and in 2005/6 these merged into 11 larger organisations. The history of this development was summarised in the 2007 joint NOCN and NIACE publication “Celebrating Achievement – 25 Years of Open College Networks”.  

NOCN is the organisation preserving the heritage of the Open College Network (OCN).

We work with a wide range of organisations to provide qualifications that are recognised and trusted, nationally. This work includes directly working with employers and training providers to deliver vocational based qualifications, including employability skills, productivity improvement skills, traineeships and apprenticeships.

With our expertise and unique approach, we’re in the best position to help employers and training providers bridge the skills gap and develop qualifications that industry needs, in a way that motivates learners and helps build a quality workforce.

We’re proud to be the very first awarding organisation to be given the 'Leader in Diversity' award by the National Centre for Diversity, a leader in promoting equality for all in the UK.

We’re recognised by Ofqual, CCEA and the Welsh Government.

We have regional offices in Birmingham, Bristol, London, North East and Warrington as well as the main office and East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber regional teams in Sheffield. We continue to work with our partners ONE Awards, who operate in the North and Scotland on our behalf, Agored Cymru and OCN Northern Ireland as well as a number of international partners in Europe, Asia and Africa.