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Six university adverts that misled undergraduates

Universities have been reprimanded over ‘misleading’ adverts that made false claims about job prospects, rankings and student satisfaction.

The advertising watchdog banned adverts at six institutions after finding they were ‘unfair’ on students because they were not backed up by evidence.

In one example, former polytechnic Teesside University, which is ranked 101st in the Complete University Guide, wrongly claimed that it was ‘top in England for long-term graduate prospects’. 

The University of West London, also a former polytechnic and ranked 79th, made a bogus claim that it was ‘top modern university’ in the capital.

The other universities censured by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) were Falmouth, East Anglia, Leicester and Strathclyde. 

The findings come after student fees rose to £9,250 this year and amid concerns that students are taking on debt to attend degree courses that will not lead to a suitable graduate job.

There is fierce competition among universities following the removal of the cap on student numbers, meaning many are adopting aggressive marketing techniques.

The ASA found many ‘misleading and unsubstantiated’ claims on university websites and social media and warned universities to hold relevant data to back up their ads in future.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: ‘Going to university involves a big financial commitment and misleading would-be students is not only unfair, it can also lead them to make choices that aren’t right for them. 

‘We’re issuing new guidance to help universities get their ads right so students can be confident they’ll get what they pay for.’

Officials found that Falmouth University was unable to substantiate its claim to be the ‘UK’s No 1 Arts University’ after an academic complained that there were other higher-ranking universities offering creative courses.

Falmouth said its claims were based on a subset of five ‘arts universities’ in three league tables, but the ASA said the claim was only generated by ‘narrowing the pool of competitors’.

Officials found that Falmouth University was unable to substantiate its claim to be the 'UK's No 1 Arts University'

Officials found that Falmouth University was unable to substantiate its claim to be the ‘UK’s No 1 Arts University’

Officials also said University of East Anglia’s assertion that it was in the ‘top five for student satisfaction’ could not be proved. They also banned a paid-for Facebook post for the University of Leicester claiming that the institution was ‘a top one per cent world university’ and ‘A World Ranked University’. The University of Strathclyde was also rebuked over a claim on its physics page that it was ‘rated number one in the UK for research’.

The universities said they based their claims on independent assessments provided by compilers of national and international league tables.

A Universities UK spokesman said: ‘With a proliferation of rankings, data and awards in existence, there is a need for clearer guidelines for universities in how they use this in a way which is clearly understood by students and those working in the sector.’ 

The universities said they based their claims on independent assessments provided by compilers of national and international league tables.

The universities said they based their claims on independent assessments provided by compilers of national and international league tables.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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