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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’s 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


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.

For more information on how we handle and use personal information about our students, read our policy:

Data Protection policy (pdf)

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.

Cookies we use for internet and application advertising purposes

On Open University owned and operated sites as well as unaffiliated sites and internet based applications, we might display interest-based advertising using information you make available to us when you interact with our sites, content, or services. Interest-based ads, also sometimes referred to as personalised or targeted ads, are displayed to you based on information from activities such as completing a web-form on our sites, use of apps or software, or by visiting unaffiliated sites that contain Open University content or ads.

Like other online advertisers, we use cookies, web beacons (also known as action tags or single-pixel gifs), and other technologies (collectively, "cookies"). Cookies enable us to learn about what content and ads you interact with. This allows us to provide you with more useful and relevant ads. For example, if we know what ads you are shown we can be careful not to show you the same ones repeatedly.

Third party applications may also use cookies to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements and to personalise content. We do not have access to or control over cookies or other features that those applications and third party sites may use, and the information practices of these advertisers and third party websites are not covered by this Privacy Notice or our Cookies information page. Please contact them directly for more information about their privacy practices.

We do not associate your interaction with unaffiliated or third party sites/applications with your identity in providing you with interest-based ads.


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 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 email is never a 100% secure way of communicating. By using it, you agree that you will send any information by email at your own risk.

Prevent Duty

The Open University is under a statutory duty to have regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism.  If the use of OU computer equipment, information and systems gives rise to a concern that a person may be at risk, this may result in action being taken in accordance with the OU Prevent strategy

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.