About us

NOCN (previously the National Open College Network) is a market-leading national awarding organisation and top-two, Government-approved Apprenticeship Assessment Organisation (AAO) that has been 'making learning matter by creating opportunities' for 30 years. NOCN Group now also includes CSkills which it recently acquired from CITB.

We are trusted and recognised by employers, training providers and learners in the UK and internationally, to provide a high quality, flexible service.

NOCN believes passionately in the power of education and its impact on communities and individuals. As a progressive educational charity with a social rather than commercial focus, we are at the forefront of vocational skills development and apprenticeships, including the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in the UK. We are also the only awarding body in the UK which specialises in productivity and are committed to increasing the UK's competitiveness globally. As the second largest awarding organisation in the UK construction sector, we are committed to working for a better future for UK construction skills.

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 also recognised by Ofqual, CCEA and the Welsh Government and work with a number of strategic partners in the UK and internationally. 

Locations and Centres

NOCN manages the majority of its UK business from its head office in Sheffield, but it also has regional offices in Birmingham, Bristol, London and Warrington. In addition we also have an office in New Delhi, India.

NOCN has over 2000 centres across the UK. People study for our qualifications at:

  • Adult Education Centres
  • Armed Forces
  • Central/Local Government/NHS
  • Colleges of Further Education
  • Community Interest Groups
  • Employers
  • FE Colleges / Tertiary Colleges
  • HM Prisons / Youth Offenders Institutions
  • Overseas Centres
  • Private Training Providers
  • Schools
  • Sixth Form Colleges
  • Trade Unions
  • Trade Associations
  • Universities or Other HE Centres
  • Voluntary Organisations


NOCN's network of educational organisations was launched in 1987, bringing together a loose federation of only seven open colleges and access centres. This new network ensured a consistency of quality for NOCN qualifications nationwide. These local organisations eventually became known as OCNs (Open College Networks) as members of NOCN’s network. By 2000 there were 31 regionally based organisations and in 2006 these merged into 11 larger OCNs. The history of this development is summarised in the 2007 joint NOCN and NIACE publication “Celebrating Achievement – 25 Years of Open College Networks”

NOCN OCN Logos updated LSE

From 2011 major government reforms to funded adult education resulted in NOCN refocusing its strategy to match government aspirations for the sector. This meant more higher level qualifications matched to the needs of industry and less of the ‘traditional’ OCN qualifications, such as foundation level and ‘niche’ awards.

Integral to this strategy NOCN re-established itself as a leading brand of adult vocational qualifications as well as apprenticeships.

Because of these changes, many of the former regional OCNs left membership of NOCN and established themselves as local awarding organisations in their own right, rebranding to make it clear they were no longer an OCN delivering NOCN qualifications.

OCNs who stayed with NOCN

Three OCNs remained and are now trusted partners, sharing NOCN’s vision for the future of adult skills and realigning their own business to fit. They are:

OCNs who left NOCN

The following organisations are no longer a part of NOCN's network and do not provide NOCN qualifications:

  • AIM Awards
  • Apted
  • Certa
  • Credit4Learning
  • Gateway Qualifications
  • Laser Learning Awards
  • Open Awards
  • Open College Network London Region
  • Open College Network West Midlands Region

The NOCN name and logo, and the 'swoosh' elements are all Registered Trademarks of NOCN.