Equity and Diversity at OU

The Open University is innovative, responsive and inclusive. 

The Open University is innovative, responsive and inclusive. We deliver world-class, part-time education to people across the four nations of the UK, Ireland and worldwide. We make a significant contribution to employability and productivity, strengthening the UK economy.

Since 1969, we have promoted educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality education to all those who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential. More than two million people have experienced this life-changing learning through their study with us.

Our mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas and this means that a commitment to equality is embedded in all that we do. We celebrate diversity and the strengths that it brings and we challenge under-representation and differences in outcomes.

Discrimination arising from individual characteristics and circumstances is not only unlawful, but a waste of talent and a denial of opportunity, preventing individuals, organisations and societies from achieving their growth potential.

For more information, view The Open University’s Anti-Discrimination Statement and Anti-Racism Statement.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan

The University has developed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan to implement the strategic equity goal, covering all areas, at all levels and in every aspect of how we work and what we achieve individually and collectively to advance social and environmental justice.

The plan has eight priorities: leadership and governance; culture change; staff networks; data and reporting; learning and teaching; the staff experience; the student experience; and research, scholarship and knowledge exchange.

We strive to view all behaviours, policies and practices through the lens of EDI principles, ensuring that everyone has the resources and opportunities appropriate to their needs and circumstances and feels they are included and can belong and relate to the OU. Working towards a more equitable, diverse, inclusive and accessible institution should benefit everyone and so is everyone’s responsibility. The Plan is complemented by our Equality Scheme which sets out equality objectives for eliminating harassment, victimisation and unlawful discrimination, promoting and advancing equality of opportunity, and promoting and fostering good relations.

The University has been a member of the Athena Swann Charter since 2012 and successfully renewed its institutional bronze award in 2020, with preparation underway to achieve Silver. Currently, we have four Bronze and four Silver departmental awards. We are working towards an application for the Race Equality Charter Mark. The University achieved the Disability Confident Level 1 as a Disability Committed employer. The OU in Wales holds the Chwarae Teg FairPlay Employer Silver Award for the promotion of gender equality in the workplace.

Equality Scheme & Objectives

The Open University Equality Scheme 2022–2026

Our equality scheme 2022-2026 sets out how as an organisation we are committed to developing an inclusive university community.  Through our equality objectives we aim to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to promote and advance equality of opportunity and to promote and foster good relations between people.

The equality scheme incorporates the following characteristics and circumstances: age, care and dependency, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, political opinion, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

Managing and mainstreaming equality and diversity

We manage and mainstream equality and diversity in order to meet our statutory equality duties and more by:

  • Consulting and engaging with staff
  • Developing inclusive policy
  • Developing staff
  • Influencing partners
  • Influencing providers of goods and services
  • Monitoring equality of opportunity
  • Planning and reporting performance
  • Providing accessible information and services
  • Publishing information
  • Sharing resources
  • Widening participation
  • Working with equality organisations