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Sending bulk email exclusively to individuals within the University of Cambridge

Within Cambridge University Information Services (UIS) provides a mailing list service for use by members of the University. Often the mailing list service is the best way to disseminate legitimate bulk email to members of the University. Further details of the mailing list service can be found at 'User-driven mailing lists' (

Mailing lists may be divided into three categories:

  1. Lists to which an individual has opted in, by joining a club or asking to be a member of the list
  2. Mailing lists that an individual has been subscribed to without their consent and for specific purposes, for example by reason of membership of a College or Department or by following a course of study.
  3. Wider distribution mailing lists, such as all staff, which are used for more general mailings on a very limited basis.

General practice

The following guidelines are relevant to all categories of mailing list:

  • A decision must be made about the category of the list, 1, 2 or 3.
  • The list must be secured according its intended use, so that while a mailing list intended for discussion will be open to all for sending email, an announcement list will be restricted to a small number of senders.
  • Unless the mailing list is in category 2 above, each individual should have the ability to opt out.
  • Unsubscription requests should be handled by an automatic mechanism or should be dealt with promptly by the list managers.
  • Unless the list is open for discussion, the list manager should ensure that errors and replies are dealt with promptly.

Medium-scale mailing lists (100-1000 recipients)

In addition to the above, the following guidelines apply to bulk mailing lists of more than 100 recipients but fewer than 1000 recipients (medium-scale mailing lists):

  • The purpose of the list must be clear and email must be relevant to the list; mailing lists should not be reused for another purpose.
  • Bulk emails messages should be sent to a mailing list address (not individual email addresses).
  • The subject of the email should start with the name of the mailing list.
  • Attention should be paid to the size of the email, a message that is not in plain text, or includes images and attachments will normally be much larger than anticipated by the sender.
  • for lists in categories 2 and 3, data must be refreshed and maintained on a regular basis.

Large-scale mailing lists (>1000 recipients)

In addition to all above, for lists of more than 1000 individuals the following guidelines apply:

  • The ability to opt out of the mailing list must be automated and preserved as the list is refreshed.
  • There must be a restricted set of senders and, unless the number of authorised senders is very small, message content must be moderated.
  • Technical advice about running a list should be sought from the UIS.

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