Six UK universities found themselves in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority this week.
Universities must ensure that their advertising and marketing claims stand up to scrutiny if they are to develop, maintain and project a reputation for high standards of quality, integrity and excellence.
With the high cost of tuition fees, and the importance of choosing the right university, universities can expect no sympathy from students, parents or academics (or anyone else) when they make claims which fall short of the standards which apply to all advertisers in the UK.
Just like any other advertiser* they must ensure that the claims they make to promote their services (including marketing claims made in prospectuses, advertising, and even social media feeds) are true, clear, not misleading, and robustly substantiated.
Perhaps it shouldn't have been necessary, but given this latest batch of upheld adjudications against various UK universities, CAP will be publishing basic guidance in the next few days to help Universities understand the rules around making provable claims which are not misleading.
*One of the very few exceptions is that the ASA's remit doesn't extend to political advertising (as we saw during the Brexit referendum campaign), so politicians jumping on this particular band wagon can jump off at the next stop!
The ASA says universities trying to recruit students have to be able to objectively prove the claims they are making about their high status. Complaints were upheld against six universities [each of which made different claims, including] "the UK's number one arts university"... "Top university in England for long-term graduate prospects"... "Top 5 for student satisfaction"... "a top 1% world university"... [and] "London's top modern university - and one of the top 10 in the UK".