London Student

UWL warned over ‘misleading’ claim about rankings

The University of West London ran a “misleading” advert claiming it ranked as one of the best universities in the country, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled.

An advert, which appeared in regional press in June 2017, said UWL had been “named as London’s top modern university – and one of the top 10 in the UK – in the Guardian University Guide 2018”.

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint about the advert which branded it “misleading” and said its claims “could not be substantiated”.

UWL had calculated it was within the top 10 “modern” universities in the UK according to the rankings, defining this as “former polytechnics and central institutions that were given university status through the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, as well as institutions that have been granted university status since 1992 without receiving a royal charter”.

The complainant, however, said the wording of the advert made it seem as though UWL was in the UK’s top 10 universities, which it is not.

UWL has acknowledged the advert was “published in error” and that its wording was ambiguous.

According to the ASA ruling: “[UWL] also noted that it would not have been logical for it to make the primary claim ‘London’s top modern university’ if it was the case that UWL was in the top 10 universities overall in the UK.”

A spokesperson for the university told London Student: “UWL has fully complied with the ASA ruling. The advertising that was the subject of investigation has been removed and will not appear in our future marketing materials.”

According to the Guardian University Guide 2018, UWL is actually London’s ninth-best university, and 58th nationally. Imperial is ranked top, in joint sixth place nationally, while the second from top is UCL, joint tenth.

Strathclyde, Falmouth, Leicester, UEA and Teesside universities were also found to have made misleading or exaggerated claims. Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), described the ever increasing competition between universities for students as having a “touch of the Wild West about it”.

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