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Open University Anti-Discrimination Statement

Our mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas and our commitment to social justice is at the very centre of everything that we stand for.

Discrimination has no place at the OU. Our staff have the right to work and our students the right to study in an environment which is free from bullying and harassment and gives them the dignity and respect to which they are entitled.

We recognise that we have work to do, but the University is committed to eradicating unlawful discrimination and will promote equality and diversity in our policies and procedures, and in the way that we communicate and engage with each other, our students and external stakeholders.

Everybody will be treated equitably and with courtesy and respect regardless of who you are. We will conform and adhere to all anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice in force across all four nations.

Unlawful grounds for discrimination

The Open University has a legal responsibility to ensure relevant anti-discrimination legislation in each of our four nations is upheld. Discrimination on any of the following grounds, also referred to as protected characteristics in some legislation, is unlawful:

  • age
  • civil status
  • dependency or caring for dependants
  • disability
  • family status
  • gender reassignment
  • marital status
  • marriage and civil partnerships
  • membership of the Traveller community
  • political opinion
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Forms of discrimination

The following are the kinds of discrimination for which The Open University operates a policy of zero tolerance. Any act of discrimination or harassment on unlawful grounds or failure to comply with our policies and procedures will result in a thorough investigation which may lead to disciplinary action for our staff or students. With regards to our external stakeholders, there will be a requirement for compliance. In addition to protected characteristics, we will not tolerate discrimination on the grounds of any other characteristics or circumstances including, but not limited to: gender or gender identity, ethnic or national origin, socio-economic background and trade union membership status.

  • Direct discrimination – treating someone with a protected characteristic or different circumstances less favourably than others
  • Indirect discrimination – putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic or different circumstances at an unfair disadvantage
  • Harassment – unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic or different circumstances that violates someone’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for them
  • Victimisation – treating someone unfairly or badly because they have, or are thought to have, made a complaint about discrimination or harassment or helped someone else make a claim of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.

The Open University is innovative, responsive and inclusive. Since 1969 we have promoted educational opportunity and social justice through our mission, and more than 2 million people have experienced life-changing learning through their study with us. We celebrate diversity and the strengths that it brings, and we challenge under-representation by establishing measurable targets and effective interventions in specific areas across the institution.

Discrimination arising from individual characteristics and circumstances is not only unlawful, but a denial of opportunity, preventing individuals, organisations and societies from achieving their potential. However, we know it exists. We want to call it out and reject it in all its forms. We stand united against discrimination in any form.  

Updated: 09/08/2021