Clamp down on university false advertising

By Iffah Ahmed, Deputy News Editor

UK Universities have been warned over misleading adverts being advertised to prospective students. Hundreds of thousands of students have been going through the process of applying to universities to start their further education in the next year, however, advertising watchdogs will be strict in warning the universities over their accuracy concerning claims they make to students, with the hope of luring them into the institution.

Universities have been asked to consider their language when promoting their institution by not being misleading or over-exaggerating. Statements such as ‘being in the top 1%’ will be heavily inspected and The University of Reading, in June, had to take down its declaration for being in the top 1% of universities worldwide. Similarly, The University of Leicester has also been told that it cannot claim it is amongst the top 1% of universities in the world.

Following this, another 5 complaints have been made at different universities. University of Strathclyde has been told to change its claim of being ranked number 1 in the UK, whilst Falmouth University has been asked to not describe itself as the UK’s ‘number one arts university’ or ‘the UK’s number one creative university’. The University of East Anglia has been told to not use the claim ‘Top 5 for student satisfaction’ and the University of West London has to stop claiming itself as being ‘London’s top modern university – and one of the top 10 in the UK’. Teesside University has also had many complaints concerning its declaration that it is the ‘top university in England for long-term graduate prospects’.

Chris Heymann, a higher education communications adviser, was previously the head of communications at the University of Reading when it was asked to eradicate its claim. Heymann stated: ‘It’s tempting for marketing teams to push the boundaries as far as they can go in emphasising them. At some point, most universities will be in the top 10 or 25 for something’.

Universities are ultimately competing for students and, therefore, have to use certain marketing methods to appeal to prospective students. 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’.

Featured image: University of Reading

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