What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files that are stored in your web browser which allow a website provider (in this case Bury College) to know that you have visited the site before. By collecting, storing and using these bits of information, we are able to be more responsive to your needs and provide useful advertising to signpost site visitors to likely relevant college services.

If you read the news every now and then, you've probably heard of cookies on the internet. But what exactly is a cookie?

When cookies were 'invented', they basically were little documents containing helpful information about you and your preferences.

For instance, imagine selecting a certain language for a website you'd visit. You'd tell the website: "Hey, I'd like to view your website in, say, English." The website would then save that information to a little document - a cookie on your computer.

The next time you'd visit that website, it would be able to read the cookie it saved earlier. That way, the website could 'remember' your language and let you view the website in English, without you having to select your language again.

Pretty handy, huh?

But cookies are not limited to remembering just your language. In fact, a cookie can contain pretty much any kind of information. It can contain the time you visited a website or it can contain the items you added to your shopping basket. It can even contain all the links you clicked on a certain website, much like leaving a breadcrumb trail on the internet. A cookie can only contain so much text, but apart from it's size the possibilities are endless. What exactly is saved to a cookie, is up to the creator of the website you are visiting.

Now, in contrary to the stuff a cookie can contain, there are limits to who can read your cookies. Imagine you first visit the website we talked about earlier, and you tell that website that your language is English. This is then saved to a cookie on your computer. If you'd visit a different website later, the latter wouldn't be able to read the cookie from the first website. In other words; only the same website that saves information to a cookie can access it.

Since the beginning of cookies, the popularity of these clever little helpers exploded and they gradually evolved into a more complex, yet essential part of the internet.

During their evolution, the amount of data cookies contained started to grow. At first they'd contain just a few preferences like your language and maybe your preferred layout for a website. But soon developers realized that the more information they could store about you, the better they could suit your needs. Cookies started containing more and more data, and eventually started pushing their size limitations.

Subsequently, developers came up with a clever workaround. What if they would simply store a unique id in a cookie on your computer, and save the rest of the data in their own system? That way, they could save unlimited amounts of data. The cookie would simply serve as an identifier for your computer, much like a dog tag by which the website can recognize you and look up your data in it's own system.

This was the first leap towards so called third party cookies. As mentioned, only the same website that saved data to a cookie can access it later. But one website can actually contain bits of another website. These bits and pieces of other websites, embedded in the website you're visiting, are actually able to access cookies they saved to your computer earlier.

Imagine visiting a news website. Apart from news articles, many news websites contain a couple of ads. These ads are in most cases bits of other websites, embedded in to the news website. Now, the news website you're looking at may not have saved any cookies to your computer and thus know nothing about you. But where do the ads come from?

It's not unlikely that the ads on the news website are embedded from the same website as the ads on another website you visited earlier. In fact, you may visit dozens of websites with ads which are all embedded from the same website.

So what does this mean? This means that, if the website the ads come from has saved a cookie to your computer earlier, it can identify you - and save information about you -through other websites. So while you're reading that news website, shopping for new shoes, looking up cures for a headache or reading the latest gossip, the ads on those websites can identify you, look up your information in their own system and dynamically show ads that you're most likely to be interested in while simultaneously saving information about what you're doing online.

So is this a bad thing? Are cookies dangerous? That depends, really. It is up to the creators of a website to determine what information they do and do not store, and more importantly; what they use that information for. Cookies are a tool. Just like a hammer, or a saw, they can be used for bad things, but they are intended to be used for good things. The responsibility lies with the people putting them to use.

Cookies in a nutshell. Visit www.adversitement.com for more information.

Why do we use them?

Cookies help us to know which pages you find useful and which you do not, so that we can provide a more responsive service. They can also help us to resolve problems if things go wrong, to understand how users use the site and improve the visitor experience going forward.

Our cookies:

  • Make the website work as you would expect
  • Remember your settings and preferences during and between visits
  • Improve the speed and security of the site
  • Allow you to share pages with social networks like Twitter and Facebook
  • Provide data analytics enabling us to continuously improve our website experience
  • Help in targeting potentially relevant college advertising

We do not use cookies to:

  • Collect any personally identifiable information
  • Collect any sensitive information
  • Pass personally identifiable data to third parties

What type of cookies do we use?

Bury College uses both session cookies and persistent cookies.

A session cookie is used to identify a particular visit to our Website. These cookies expire after a short time, or when you close your web browser after using our Website. We use these cookies to identify you during a single browsing session, such as when you log into our Website.

A persistent cookie will remain on your devices for a set period of time specified in the cookie. We use these cookies where we need to identify you over a longer period of time. For example, we would use a persistent cookie if you asked that we keep you signed in.

How do third parties use cookies on the Bury College Website?

Third party companies, like analytics companies and ad networks, generally use cookies to collect user-information on an anonymous basis. They may pool this information to generate anonymised profiles of site visitor activity.

What are your options regarding cookies?

If you don't like the idea of cookies, or certain types of cookies, you can change your browser settings to delete cookies that have already been set and decline new cookies. To learn more about how to do this, visit the help pages of your browser.

When cookies are accepted on our website they are set to expire after one year. If you would like to remove the cookie data, please clear your cookies within your browser settings.

Please note that if you delete cookies or do not accept them, you may not be able to use all of the features we offer, you may not be able to store your preferences, and some of our pages may not properly be displayed.