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Privacy and cookies

Data Protection and privacy

The University of St Andrews recognises that personal privacy is an important issue, and we support the protection of internet privacy as required by UK legislation.

The University of St Andrews is legally obliged to comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. For more details see the University's Data Protection Policy.

Any personal details collected through this website and provided by you will be processed in accordance with the Act, and will only be used for the purpose stated at the time we request it. We will not sell, license or trade your personal information to others. We do not provide your personal information to direct marketing companies or other such organisations.

It is also possible to make credit or debit card payments to the University of St Andrews through our website. Such payments are handled by a third party e-commerce company called WPM, and they have their own privacy statement.

The St Andrews website maintains logs of its servers' activity. These server log files include the IP address of every computer used to access the St Andrews website. The log files are used to analyse usage of the St Andrews website.

Cookies

Use of cookies

The University is required to provide clear information, informing people how it makes use of cookies on its websites, and to provide details on how individuals can opt out of using those cookies, if they so choose. The requirement to do this is set out in Regulation 6 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR).

What are cookies?

Cookies are normally small text files that are stored on the hard drive of a computer (or a mobile device). These files are used by Internet browsers, and they can normally be found in the directory/folder that was created on a computer when the Internet browser was installed.

Cookies are created when a browser is used to visit a website that uses cookies to keep track of how people move between a website’s pages.

What type of information is contained within cookies?

Again, cookies are small text files, they normally do not hold much information other than the unique address of a website (the URL) that created the cookie, the duration of the cookie's abilities and effects, and a random number. This information is minimal and normally it cannot be used to reveal a person’s identity or any other personally identifying information. However, some website providers make increasingly sophisticated and cookies to market products and services by creating a profile of people’s use of the Internet (i.e. surfing habits). The University does not make use of these targeting cookies or advertising cookies.

Categories of cookies

Cookies can be grouped into four categories:

  1. Strictly necessary cookies
    These cookies are essential in order to enable you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies services you have asked for, like shopping baskets or e-billing, cannot be provided.
  2. Performance cookies
    These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don’t collect information that identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works.
  3. Functionality cookies
    These cookies allow the website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you are in) and provide enhanced, more personal features. For instance, a website may be able to provide you with local weather reports or traffic news by storing in a cookie the region in which you are currently located. These cookies can also be used to remember changes you have made to text size, fonts and other parts of web pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you have asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. The information these cookies collect may be anonymised and they cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
  4. Targeting cookies or advertising cookies
    These cookies are used to deliver adverts more relevant to you and your interests. They are also used to limit the number of times you see an advertisement as well as help measure the effectiveness of the advertising campaign. They are usually placed by advertising networks with the website operator’s permission. They remember that you have visited a website and this information is shared with other organisations such as advertisers. Quite often targeting or advertising cookies will be linked to site functionality provided by the other organisation.

Do I need cookies?

No, if you wish to restrict or block the cookies which are set by the University, or indeed any other website, by amending the browser settings. Most browsers can be configured to refuse cookies, or to provide a warning before they are accepted by a computer.  The help function within your browser should tell you how to configure it to refuse cookies or to alert you to their use.

In addition, if you wish you can opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites.

That being said, cookies in the main are advantageous: more often than not they enhance people’s on-line experience, for little if any privacy impact.  You should be aware that the University of St Andrews uses cookies to enhance the on-line experience. Disabling cookies when using our website will mean that you will not be able to enjoy and take full advantage of the University website’s functionality and services.

More information about cookies

The All About Cookies website is a useful resource, providing more information about cookies, their use, privacy concerns and information on the law as this relates to cookies.

Use of cookies by the University of St Andrews

Where the University uses performance cookies (see categories of cookies above) - by using the university website, you agree that we can place these types of cookies on the device(s) that you use to engage with our website.

The table below explains what cookies we use and why.

CookieCategoryNameDurationPurposeTypical content
*Google Analytics Performance cookie _utma 2 years Identify unique visitors to our website Randomly generated number e.g. 151691899.179752
    _utmb 30 minutes Determine visitor sessions Randomly generated number e.g. 151691899.179752
     _utmc When the web browser you are using is closed. Determine visitor sessions  Randomly generated number e.g. 151691899.179752
     _utmz 6 months Traffic sources and navigation Randomly generated number and information on how the website was reached
e.g.1691899.2.utmcsr
=example.com|
mccn=(referral)|
utmcmd=referral|
utmcct=/path/to/webpage/
4eb1adce56498b
0000402f9b/270

*These cookies are used to collect information about how visitors use our site. We use the information to compile reports and to help us improve the site. The cookies collect information in an anonymous form, including the number of visitors to the site, where visitors have come to the site from and the pages they visited. Please visit the Google privacy policy for additional information.

Third party cookies

The University uses a range of external services within its website, such as YouTube and Twitter. These third party cookies fall into the functionality cookies (see categories of cookies above) - by using the university website, you agree that we can place these types of cookies on the device(s) that you use to engage with our website.

At the time of publication (of this privacy notice) the University is aware that the following third party services make use of functionality cookies:

Using the services provided by the third parties listed above, from the University website you are likely to then come into contact with the cookies that those providers make use of. These third parties provide details of how to opt out of using the cookies that they make use of, from their own websites.

Management of cookies

The University will normally make use of cookies categories:

  1. Strictly necessary cookies
  2. Performance cookies
  3. Functionality cookies

Use of the fourth category of cookie (targeting or advertising cookies) will be by exceptional circumstances only. When using targeting or advertising cookies the University will always seek consent prior to a cookie falling within that category being made available on a device.