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Your Needs

what you needWe recognise that everyone has different needs and circumstances. Read more about the policies, services and resources for your individual needs.

Protected characteristics

We aim to anticipate and respond positively to your needs and circumstances which are ‘protected’ by the Equality Act which covers England, Scotland and Wales and Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act alongside other relevant equality legislation.

Protected characteristics include:

The University has taken a broader view of the characteristics to include caring for dependants, membership of the Traveller community, trades union membership status, type of employment contract (e.g. part-time, full-time for OU employees only) and socio-economic background. 

Obtaining support

For students

We provide information for students about study support and further information is provided to registered students in the ‘Help centre’ available from Student Home.  Students wishing to discuss their needs should contact their Student Support Team. 

For staff

Resources are available for OU staff via the University's intranet.  Staff should discuss their needs with their line manager so appropriate support measures can be put in place.

As part of its wellbeing programme the University offers all staff access to a free and confidential Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This service is inclusive of counselling around any of the protected characteristics listed above.

If you would like to speak to someone regarding any form of discrimination or bullying and harassment either for yourself or on behalf of someone else, you can speak to:

  • the person about the behaviour and ask for it to stop
  • your line manager or more senior manager
  • your People Services Business Partner (via the People Hub)
  • the Equality Diversitiy and Inclusion team at
  • your Trades Union representative.

Report and Support 

Report and Support is The Open University's new safe space reporting system where staff, students, learners and visitors can report incidences of harassment relating to the nine EDI protected characteristics. 

The new system can be accessed here: Report + Support - Open University 

Report and Support will: 

  • Make it easier to report an incident on your own behalf, or on behalf of someone else.  You will also have the option to do this anonymously or with your contact details.  
  • Make the reporting procedure more consistent across the University whilst still keeping to existing policies in relation to bullying and harassment.  
  • Provide information about where support is available, if needed.   
  • Ensure that the person making the complaint, and the person that the complaint is about, know what their options are for next steps and the process for escalation. 
  • Bring the University in line with around 80 other universities using Report and Support, which allows us to learn from their experiences. 
  • Help the University to meet external benchmarks (e.g. the Race Equality Charter) and to align with recommendations within the Universities UK report, 'Tackling Racial Harassment in HE'. 



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