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Website privacy at OpenLearn

This page describes how OpenLearn will use your personal data. The Open University is the Data Controller for this data. See also the information at .

What information do we collect?

When you register to use OpenLearn and its services you will be required to set up an OU account and provide us with personal data, comprising: your name, date of birth and email address, and your contact preferences. If you enrol on an OpenLearn course we will record your participation in and completion of the course. If you register as part of a funded partner programme you may be asked for additional personal data, e.g. your address, and demographic data such as ethnicity.

We automatically collect information about your use of OpenLearn (website logs).

The OU also collects information about how you use its websites including the devices you use to access its content and services. This includes collecting unique online identifiers such as IP addresses. For more information see the section below on OpenLearn’s use of cookies and similar technologies.

We may also ask you about your personal or professional interests, demographics, experiences with our products and services. In your OpenLearn profile you have the option to add further information about yourself and you can edit or remove this information at any time when you log in.  You control whether this information is made visible (public) or not (private).  The default setting is ‘private’.

For those that subscribe to the OpenLearn e-newsletter, we gather statistics around email opening which helps us to monitor and improve our e-newsletter.

How do we use your personal data?

We use your personal data in order to deliver and improve our services, which are part of our public task of providing education to all. This includes maintaining records of your participation in OpenLearn courses. We will contact you where necessary via email, for example when you enrol on or complete an OpenLearn course, and notifying you if a course you have enrolled on is being deleted, amended or updated. We use data to analyse patterns and trends of use and the uptake of educational courses and facilities. If you register as part of a funded partner programme we will use your data for internal planning and reporting purposes, and will also share it with the funding body or partner organisation.

We may use your personal data within The Open University for research purposes.

This is part of our public task of conducting academic research.

We may contact you to take part in market research. This is part of our legitimate interest in improving OU services.

Where you have provided consent to receive marketing communications

If you have given your consent to receive marketing communications when signing up for an OU account, then you may receiving Open University marketing information. For further information see section 3 of the OU’s Enquirer Privacy Notice. If you need to change your marketing preferences you can update your preferences when you sign into the Open University website, by using any unsubscribe options available in communications we send you, or by contacting us. 

Your rights

You have a number of rights in relation to your personal data – please see for more information. If you would like a copy of the personal data that we hold about you, please contact the Data Protection team.

How long will you keep my data?

We will normally keep your data for as long as necessary to give you the services you are using. This will be determined by a number of factors, including the purpose for which we use that information, our obligations under other laws or unless you tell us you would like your account deleted. We will keep data on the OpenLearn study you have participated in until you ask us to delete it. Data relating to funded partner programmes will be retained for as long as relevant to that programme.

Who do we share your data with?

We use third party suppliers and service providers, for example to provide some of our IT systems. We use a third party provider, MailChimp, to deliver our e-newsletter. For more information, please see MailChimp’s privacy notice. When we use third party service providers, we only disclose to them any personal information that is necessary for them to provide their service, and we have a contract in place that requires them to keep your information secure and not to use it other than in accordance with our specific instructions. These transfers are in our legitimate interest of carrying out cost effective activities.

If you register as part of a funded partner programme we will share your data with the funding body for planning and reporting purposes, such as equality monitoring.

Where do we store your information?

Generally, information you provide to us is stored on our secure servers, or on our cloud-based systems which are located within the European Economic Area.

If we transfer your information outside of the EEA, we will take steps to ensure that appropriate security measures are taken with the aim of ensuring that your privacy rights continue to be protected as outlined in this policy. These steps include imposing contractual obligations on the recipient of your personal information, or ensuring that the recipients are subscribed to ‘international frameworks’ that aim to ensure adequate protection. For example, we would ensure that a US based supplier has signed up to “Privacy Shield”.

Cookies and similar technology

Cookies are files which store information on your hard drive or browser which means that we can recognise that you have visited OpenLearn before.

By seeing how you use OpenLearn we can measure the general usability of the website. In particular we may use cookies to identify which pages are being most frequently used. This information is used for statistical analysis including the identification of patterns and trends.

You can, should you choose, disable cookies within your browser and delete all cookies currently stored on your computer. You do not need to have cookies turned on to navigate through many parts of our website.

For more information see Cookie Use on the OU website.

Links to third party websites

As outlined in the terms and conditions of use, we may link to other websites which are not within our control. Once you have left OpenLearn we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information which you provide. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

You can update your contact preferences when you sign into the Open University website, by using any unsubscribe options available in communications we send you, or by contacting us.



Updated July 2020

Contact us

Please direct any queries about this policy or about the way we process your personal information to our Data Protection Officer using the contact details below.


Telephone: +44(0)1908 653994

By post:

The Data Protection Officer,
PO Box 497,
The Open University,
Walton Hall,
Milton Keynes
MK7 6AT.