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Website privacy at OpenLearn

This page describes how OpenLearn will use your personal data. For further information on how the Open University uses personal data, and your rights, please see

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 Open University’s cookies policy.

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, or 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 receive Open University marketing information. For further information see section 3 of the OU’s Enquirer Privacy Notice (pdf 112kb). 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.

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. This is 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 UK or the European Economic Area (EEA).

However, there are times when we do transfer information outside the EEA. Where we conduct surveys, we use SurveyMonkey, which is a US based company. Where we transfer personal data to service providers or international partners outside the EEA, we take steps to ensure that your privacy rights are protected by using appropriate contractual safeguards, i.e. the standard contractual clauses for international transfers.


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.