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About the OU > Admin and governance > Policies and Statements > Website privacy at the OU

Website privacy at the OU

This page describes how you can access any personal information the OU may hold, and how we may use cookies to monitor usage patterns across the OU website. You may wish to print this page.

There are particular circumstances regarding the OpenLearn website (the OU's open content initiative) - see OpenLearn privacy statement.

Access to your personal information

When you contact us we create a record in your name. We add information that we then collect, including information that you may give us during registration, to that record. The data controller for your personal data is The Open University.

You have the right under the Data Protection Act to information about your personal data (the right of 'subject access'). You will need to pay a fee of £8. You should address your request to

The Data Protection Co-ordinator,
PO Box 497,
The Open University,
Milton Keynes,
MK7 6AT.

How we use personal information

We may use the personal information that you provide when you enquire or register:

  • to deal with your enquiry or application and to provide you with appropriate services and these may include sending your further information,
  • for the purpose of research and to help us plan and improve our services. We may contact you ourselves or ask outside research agencies to do so on our behalf.


SocialLearn is the latest evolution of online learning from The Open University, providing an effectual learning space that gives you control of what and how you learn, and with whom, by harnessing the power of the web and the energy of social networking. There is also a research aspect to SocialLearn and as such the following clauses related to SocialLearn users:

  • The Open University supports the development of SocialLearn. Use of and contributions to SocialLearn are monitored, evaluated and reported for this and associated work. The associated research programme currently deals with the practice of producing a social learning resource and with how people can learn within online social networks.
  • ´╗┐We use third-party analytics on SocialLearn. These capture information about the use of SocialLearn. The team operating SocialLearn will use this data to help us monitor and improve SocialLearn.

Freedom of Information Act Publication Scheme

Use the link below to find a guide to the University's publication scheme which consists of nine groups of classes of information. Each class contains descriptions of the information available and the links to it. The site also contains information about the FoI Act and its implementation.

Freedom of Information website.

Use of cookies and your privacy

A cookie is a small data file. Cookies cannot read your hard disk or make any information collected by use of a cookie available to any third party. A cookie can only be read by the organisation that installs it.

Some parts of The Open University website store a cookie on your computer to track user traffic patterns. We do this in order to determine the usefulness of our website and to see how effective our navigational structure is. We do not release this information to third parties.

If you prefer not to receive cookies while browsing our website, you can set your browser to refuse all cookies that are stored on your computer. You do not need to have cookies turned on to use or navigate through many parts of our website.

If you are a registered user of the University and wish to sign in to password protected websites you will need to allow "per-session" cookies. These are only stored on your computer for the duration of your visit and are deleted when you close your browser or sign out of The Open University website.

For more detailed information see Cookie use on the OU website


We take security very seriously. All staff are made aware of the security procedures they must follow when handling personal information. Data is protected from unauthorised access and we are confident no one will be able to access your personal information unlawfully. We also protect data which is being transferred. As long as your web browser supports the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), any personal data transmitted from your browser to our web service, or from the service to your browser, will be encrypted. Please note that Internet e-mail is never a 100% secure way of communicating. By using it, you agree that you will send any information by e-mail at your own risk.

Links to third-party sites

While we will take all reasonable precautions to make sure that other organizations who we deal with have good security practices, we are not responsible for the privacy practices of those organizations whose websites may be linked to our service.