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Cookie policy

This page explains how we (The Open University) use cookies on our websites and how you can manage your cookie preferences.

  1. Cookies explained
  2. How the OU uses cookies
  3. Third party or joint controller cookies
  4. Cookies we use on our sites
  5. What are the lawful bases for processing personal data using cookies
  6. What if I do not want cookies
  7. How to change your cookie preferences on our websites
  8. Changing cookie settings in your web browser

Cookies explained

A cookie is a small amount of data, which often includes a unique identifier that is sent to your computer or mobile phone browser from a website’s computer and is stored on your computer’s or mobile phone’s hard drive.

How The Open University uses cookies

We use four types of cookie at the OU:

Strictly necessary cookies

These cookies are necessary in order to enable you to move around our sites and use specific features. They can’t be disabled

Necessary cookies are required to enable technical site functionality and to provide the services explicitly requested by you. This includes as an example services such as your selected country, keeping you logged in, providing security and fraud prevention, having your digital shopping bag items stored while you browse, remembering volume settings, and you getting access to secure areas of the website.  This category of cookies cannot be disabled and does not require a consent.

Analytics cookies

These cookies collect information about how the site is used, including pages viewed, links clicked and forms submitted; this allows us to monitor and improve the user experience on an aggregated level. They do not identify the individual user.

Tracking and personalisation

These cookies allow our websites to remember choices you make and your activity, e.g. your user name, and search and browser preferences. This enables a more personalised experience and more relevant communications.

Advertising cookies

These cookies collect information about your browsing habits in order to make advertising relevant to you and your interests.

Third party or joint data controller cookies

Like other online advertisers, we use third party cookies, pixels, and similar technologies .

Our carefully selected media partners place third party cookies, pixels and ad tags onto our website on our behalf  if you accept these cookies. These technologies record your visit to our website, the pages you visit and links you follow. They can be used and shared by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They may also control the number of times you see certain content, as well as measure the effectiveness of our digital campaigns. These are the third parties we allow to place cookies on our websites and in our apps. Read about how these third parties process your personal information:

If you would like to learn more about how advertisers use these types of cookies or to choose not to receive them, please visit the Your Online Choices website.

Cookies we use on our sites

This lists the different cookies – including the third parties we share your cookie information with – either to process the cookie on our behalf or as separate data controllers.

Please be aware that some cookies are set by third-party media and advertising partners for our joint or their independent use and they may combine data collected from your visit to Open University websites with information they have collected from you elsewhere. Please read their privacy policies on how your information is processed and what rights you have.

What are the lawful bases for processing personal data using cookies

Some of the cookies set on Open University will result in processing of your personal information.
In regard to “strictly necessary” cookies processing personal information, we base this processing on either:

  • our legitimate interest in preventing fraudulent behaviour when using our website and its services;
  • our legitimate interest in allowing you to interact with our customer service via chat functionality and to remain logged in with your OU account
  • our obligation to secure a safe use and operation of the website and the services offered on the website
  • our contractual obligation to deliver specific services or functionalities specifically requested by the website user.

In regard to “analytical,” “tracking and personalisation,” and/ or “marketing” cookies processing personal information, we base this processing on consent

For cookies where a third party is joint controller or independent controller, please refer to the third party’s privacy information linked to below, for more information on the legal basis of their processing of personal information as controllers.

Read how to manage and control what information we collect from you in our full Privacy Policy.

What if I do not want cookies:

Necessary cookies are essential for the website and you cannot opt out of them, but you can delete necessary cookies after use – see how below.

For all other cookies, you can always adjust your settings and revoke your consent.

How to change your cookie preferences on our websites

At the bottom of our page there is a link to Manage cookie preferences. By selecting this link, a pop up screen will appear. By choosing to opt in or out you can manage your preferences for our sites. This change will apply across all Open University websites, so think carefully about what preferences you would like to set  especially if you are studying with us.

Changing cookie settings in your web browser

Each web browser has its own way of managing cookies. You can block or remove cookies yourself by altering the settings of your browser or to send a warning notice before a cookie is stored on your computer. These changes will apply to all websites that you visit (unless you choose to block cookies from particular sites). If you are using an OU website, you can also avoid cookies being placed by adjusting the browser settings on your device. If you are using an OU app, please note that cookies set in an app work in a different way and you will have to control this via your device directly. Real browser cookies are set to expire. Similar types of technologies, like local storage on your device, do not have expiration built-in but must be deleted by you.

You should be aware that any preferences will be lost if you delete cookies. If you block cookies completely, many websites will not work properly and some functionality on these websites will not work at all. We do not recommend turning cookies off when using our websites for these reasons.

To find out more, consult your browser’s help function. We’ve provided links to the relevant pages for some common browsers.

Further reading

Information on the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC UK) cookie guide can be found on the ICC website.