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UK Mobile Networks Buying Marketing Data from Student Organisation

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A UK organisation that processes applications for students applying for university places has been accused of selling student information to marketing firms, including mobile networks.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is reported to have earned £12 million last year alone selling data about the million students, and where it has it, their parents to companies seeking to sell targetted advertising.

The service controls admissions to the UK's universities and processes around 700,000 new applicants per year. As a result, it sits on one of the largest demographic databases about young adults in the UK

Both Vodafone and O2 are said to have bought information from the organisation and used it for marketing to teenagers and students.

Students can opt out of receiving direct marketing, but only at the cost of missing out on education and careers mailings as well.

There are now calls for the marketing database to be split from the educational information, so that students can opt out of being contacted by advertising companies.

Emma Carr, deputy director of the privacy lobby group Big Brother Watch, said: "Ucas is perfectly within the law to sell on this information, but the way they are doing so, as is the situation with most data gathering organisations, is underhand. It goes far beyond what students would expect them to do with their data."

Ucas said in response that the revenue from the marketing services helps to reduce the fees it charges students looking for a university place.

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Tags: UK