The advertising watchdog has told six UK universities to take down marketing claims that could be misleading.
Leicester, East Anglia, Strathclyde, Falmouth, Teesside and the University of West London have all had complaints upheld against them.
The Advertising Standards Authority is warning against exaggerated claims made to attract students.
Chief executive Guy Parker says students need “good evidence” when making such a big financial commitment.
“Misleading would-be students is not only unfair, it can also lead them to make choices that aren’t right for them,” said Mr Parker.
For the first time universities are going to be issued with guidance on avoiding misleading information.
Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said that intensifying competition between universities now has a “touch of the Wild West about it”.
“Universities should be careful about their claims, which need to be robust, truthful and useful.
“But it is a good thing that they are telling potential applicants more than they used to in the past.”
Hundreds of thousands of young people are currently deciding their options for applications for courses next autumn.
The Advertising Standards Authority says universities trying to recruit students have to be able to objectively prove the claims they are making about their high status.
The watchdog wants to stop unjustified claims and offer a clearer explanation of achievement in rankings and league tables.
Complaints were upheld against six universities:
- Falmouth University has been told to stop describing itself as “the UK’s number one arts university” or “the UK’s number one creative university”.
- Teesside University had a complaint upheld for saying it was the “Top university in England for long-term graduate prospects”.
- University of East Anglia has been told not to use the claim “Top 5 for student satisfaction”.
- University of Leicester must…