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Cookies FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a cookie?

A cookie is a small file of information which a web server stores on a user's computer to record their preferences and other pieces of information. The cookie is set through a request by a web server to a web browser such as Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox. A cookie is composed of two parts, its name and its content.

What are the advantages of cookies?

A cookie contains information linked from the user to a specific website. If you access the same website again, the web server can read from and react to the information that it has stored to provide a more user-friendly experience.
Cookies are used to store information relating to online offers and services, eg language preferences, privacy settings, and shopping habits, so that you receive more relevant information in a form that is suitable to you.

What data do cookies store?

Most cookies do not store any personal or sensitive information, or anything that makes you personally identifiable. Most cookies are used to record information such as: how you found our website, which pages you viewed, and how long you spent on the site.
Cookies are also used to store information such as: language settings, log-ins for email, or the items in a shopping basket. We do need personal details for some services, for instance if you want to use our online shop, and so that you can use the shop more quickly on return visits, or if you complete an online form.

How long do cookies last?

Different cookies are stored for different lengths of time. For instance, cookies designed to track how you found us expire after six months. Cookies used to establish and continue a unique user session are updated each time you request another page from the website, and the cookie is set to expire after 30 minutes. Cookies which allow us to identify subsequent visits to our website as belonging to the same (unique) visitor expire after two years.

Are cookies transferred to other websites?

No, only the web server that sent the cookie can access it again when a user returns to a website associated with that web server.

Why do organisations use cookies?

We use the data that is collected to report, in aggregate, how our visitors find and use our website. We use those reports to understand overall visitor behaviour, and we use that understanding to update and improve our website. For instance, we use cookies to calculate the amount of ‘traffic’ to our site and to look at navigation through the site, so that we can see the most popular pages and routes to information.

Can cookies damage my computer?

?No, a cookie is entirely passive and does not contain software programs, or spyware that can be used to illegally intercept data. Cookies cannot carry viruses, and do not have access to the information on your hard drive.

Cookies we store

Here is a list of the cookies we have defined as 'strictly necessary':

ASP.NET_SessionId - contains a unique and anonymous identifying ID, which allows us to ensure that subsequent visits to our website are recorded as belonging to the same (unique) visitor. This cookie expires after you leave our website.

__bsscookieLevel - contains information about which cookie setting the visitor has selected. This cookie expires in 30 days and does not contain any identifying information.

__bssstyle - remembers which stylesheet you had previously selected. This is important for accessibility reasons, as we want to provide our users the best experience. This cookie expires in 30 days and does not contain any identifying information.

__bsstabs - remembers which section of the promotional carousel you last looked at and sets it as default on your next visit. This cookie expires in 30 days and does not contain any identifying information.

visitor_info1_live and pref - are set by youtube.com and identify which version of Flash plugin is installed to ensure that the best video performance is delivered and that a new YouTube interface is loaded. These cookies do not contain any identifying information.

__bssbof - enables visitors to hide and show the content carousel. It remembers the setting upon the next visit and displays the toggle switch. This cookie expires in 30 days and does not contain any identifying information.

__bssflakesremoved -  contains information which flake from the has been removed from the homepage. This cookie expires in 30 days and does not contain any identifying information.

__bssflakesadded - contains information which flake from the has been removed from the homepage. This cookie expires in 30 days and does not contain any identifying information.

We use Google Analytics, which creates a number of first-party cookies, all prefixed __utm:

__utma: contains a unique and anonymous identifying ID, which allows us to ensure that subsequent visits to our website are recorded as belonging to the same (unique) visitor. This cookie expires after two years.
__utmb: used to establish and continue a unique user session. Each time you request another page from the website the cookie is updated to expire after 30minutes.
__utmc: works with __utmb to determine when to create a new session for a website visitor. This is a session cookie and expires when you exit the browser.
__utmz: tracks how you found us and is used to calculate traffic and navigation within the website. It is updated with every new page view and expires after 6 months.

To opt out of our use of Google Analytics you may wish to consider using the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on(http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout).
psc - View counter cookie via addthis.com
uid/uit - User id and login time tracking via addthis.com
_atuvc - is created and read by addthis.com JavaScript on the client side in order to make sure the user sees the updated count if they share a page and return to it before our share count cache is updated. No data from that cookie is sent back to AddThis.

How can I opt out of cookies?

You will need to visit our Cookies settings box and make sure that none of the boxes are ticked so that no cookies are stored on your computer.

Are there any exceptions to the request for approval?

Only cookies that are deemed 'strictly necessary' for a service requested by the user are exempted from this requirement. However, we will ask you for your permission for all the cookies that we use on our site.

Will I still be able to use the website if I opt out of cookies?

You will still be able to use the website, but you will be prompted to accept or reject cookies on certain pages, and your experience of the website may not be as good as it should be. You will not be able to use certain services if you opt out of cookies, for instance our booking forms, and online shop. If you delete all your cookies you will have to update your preferences with us again in order to use our site.

Will I have to opt-in every time I visit the website?

If you do not accept cookies, you will be prompted to opt-in every time you visit the website. If you accept all cookies, you will not be asked again, provided you are using the same computer. If you use a different device, computer profile or browser you will have to tell us your preferences again.

Can I opt-out later on?

Yes, you can opt out of any/all cookies at any time. You may also choose to delete the cookies from your computer between visits to our website.

How can I find out more about your use of cookies?

You can read our list of cookies in the Cookies settings pop-up box. If you have any further questions, please email dpofficer@bucks.ac.uk.