Cookies and similar technologies

This page explains how we use cookies and similar tools on Oxford Alumni Online websites. These websites are:

We are moving more websites to Oxford Alumni Online, so this list will grow longer.

This page also covers the way we use cookies in conjunction with the emails we send out via the Development and Alumni Relations System (DARS).

How we use cookies

All of our web pages use "cookies". A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that we place on your computer or mobile device. These cookies allow us to distinguish you from other users of our website, which helps us to provide you with a good experience when you browse our website. Cookies also give us information that enables us to improve our website.

We use the following types of cookies:

strictly necessary cookies
these are essential in to enable you to move around the websites and use their features. Without these cookies the services you have asked for, such as registering for an account, cannot be provided.
performance cookies
these cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often. We use this information to improve our websites and to aid us in investigating problems raised by visitors. These cookies do not collect information that identifies a visitor.
functionality cookies
these cookies allow the website to remember choices you make and provide more personal features. For instance, a functional cookie can be used to remember the volume level you prefer to use when watching videos on our websites. The information these cookies collect may be anonymised and they cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.

Most web browsers allow some control of most cookies through the browser settings. To find out more about cookies, including how to see what cookies have been set and how to manage and delete them please visit

Comprehensive details of our use of cookies are given below.

How we use Flash Local Shared Objects

We insert Flash files on some of our web pages to make more functionality available to our visitors. For example, a Flash file allows a visitor to view the boat race videos on the Oxford Today website.

Some Flash files, such as the previous example, store data on your computer in local shared objects. Visit Abobe's Website Storage Settings panel to view, or delete, the local shared objects stored on your computer.

We provide details of our use of this storage further down this page.

How we use HTML5 web storage

In recent years the development of HTML5 has provided a new way for websites to store information on your computer: web storage. As with cookies, this facility enables a website to store information that remains on your computer when you have left the website, or even after you're turned the machine off.

On some of our web pages we embed third-party functionality that stores information in this way. One example is this Google Map embedded on the Oxford Alumni website. Details of our usage of HTML5 web storage is given below.

At the time of writing it is difficult to view and delete data stored in this way. Some browsers, such as Google Chrome and Opera provide such a facility, but others do not.

How we use web beacons

On websites

Some of the third-party features we embed on our web pages make use of web beacons to store data. One example is the Oxford Alumni Travellers 2012 brochure.

A web beacon is a file inserted onto a web page that is stored on a different website for tracking purposes. When the page is loaded, the file is requested from the tracking website by your computer or mobile device. This request allows the tracking website to record information about your visit.

Our use of web beacons is detailed below.


We use monitoring tools on our emails to continuously improve the layout and content of our e-communications with you. In order to do this, our email software uses a web beacon to note when an email we have sent is opened by the recipient as well as to track how many links within the message are clicked. We use this data in an aggregated (and anonymised) form to optimise future emails and for our own internal reporting.
Occasionally we may look at this email data to see whether an individual user has opened an email. This may be prompted by the user concerned alerting us to a problem. In this case we would look at the data recorded about an individual in order to solve the problem they have raised.

If you would like to unsubscribe from a mailing list, you can do so at any time by clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the relevant email.

Details of our use of cookies and similar technologies

These tools may be set by an Oxford Alumni Online website (first-party) or by another website whose functionality we have used (third-party).

First-party items

Data stored by visiting pages

Our website production system (made by Blackbaud) uses two cookies on every page.

Name Duration When it’s added
VisitorGuid 50 years On page load
ASP.NET_SessionId Session On page load

At the time of writing we have been unable to clarify the purpose of these cookies with our supplier. We believe they are set by the framework that is the foundation of the website production system.

Data stored by login/registration

Name Duration When it’s added
.ASPXAUTH Session On clicking ‘log-in’ or ‘register’

Once you have logged-in the software we use tracks the pages you visit and stores the information in your record on the DARS system. Our software does this by default. There is currently no way to turn off such tracking.

Occasionally we may use this information to solve an issue raised by a user. For example, if an alumnus contacts us about a problem with a page then we may check their record so we understand which they are referring to.

Data stored by Your Messages inbox

Name Duration When it’s added
BBNCMessageCollapsedView 3 months When user clicks ‘Change to condensed view’
BNES_BBNCMessageCollapsedView 3 months When user clicks ‘Change to condensed view’

The 'BBNCMessageCollapsedView' cookie stores your preferred view of the inbox: condensed or expanded. The manufacturer of our software has not provided details concerning the other cookie.

Data stored by Google Analytics

Name Duration When it’s added
__utma 2 years On page load
__utmb 60 minutes On page load
__utmc Session On page load
__utmz 6 months On page load

Google say:

"Cookies are used to differentiate one user from another and to pass information from page to page during a single user's website session. A web server uses cookies to collect data about a given browser, along with the information requested and sent by the browser's operator (the visitor). Cookies do not identify people, but rather they are defined themselves by a combination of a computer, a user account, and a browser."

Learn about Google's use of cookies

Install a free browser add-on that stops Google from tracking you

Third Party Cookies

Data stored by Flickr slideshow

Name Duration When it’s added Domain
B 2 years On page load
localization 2 years On page load

Yahoo, who own Flickr, say they may use cookies to track usage of their products, provide security and track your preferences.

Further information: Yahoo's use of cookies

Data stored by Google Maps

Name Duration When it’s added Domain
PREF 2 years On page load
NID 6 months On page load
 HTML 5 Web Storage
Key When it’s added Domain
- On page load

At the time of writing Google do not state why viewing an embedded map stores data in this way.

Overview of Google privacy

Data stored by JW Video Player

Flash local shared storage
Domain When it’s added On page load On page load On page load

JW Player state:

"The player does use Flash cookies to store a couple of specific things: the current volume state, the current mute state, and the last known bandwidth (for dynamic bitrate switching)."

Data stored by YouTube videos

Name Duration When it’s added Domain
use_hitbox Session When you play video
VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE 8 months When you play video
Flash local shared storage 
Domain When it’s added On page load

We use YouTube privacy enhanced mode when we embed videos on Oxford Alumni Online. YouTube say:

YouTube may still set cookies on the user's computer once the visitor clicks on the YouTube video player, but YouTube will not store personally-identifiable cookie information for playbacks of embedded videos using the privacy-enhanced mode.

However, no information is provided on YouTube's use of flash local storage.

Changes to our Cookie Statement

Any changes we may make to our Cookie Statement in the future will be posted on this page and, where appropriate, notified to you by email.


Any queries or concerns about the use of cookies on this website should be sent by email to or addressed to the Data Protection Office, University of Oxford, University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JD.