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The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Students, a cross-party group of MPs and Peers, is launching a short inquiry into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on university students, with specific reference to student calls for rebates in tuition and accommodation payments.
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A number of universities are presenting unverifiable marketing claims making it difficult for prospective students to make informed choices, according to a new Which? University investigation.
Almost a year after the advertising watchdog upheld a number of complaints about misleading information in higher education, the consumer champion found several universities are making unverifiable and potentially misleading claims.
Which? University carried out a review of comparative claims made by UK institutions and found that at least six universities included examples of unsubstantiated or unverifiable claims about their standing on their websites, in likely breach of advertising standards.
The review found a number of unjustified claims, which were not clearly verifiable including:
Which? University said it was particularly concerned about these comparative claims, given it is less than one year since the Advertising Standards Authority issued its comprehensive advice in November 2017 to universities about such claims and its rulings which upheld complaints about comparative claims made in university advertising. Where universities are making comparative claims about their relative performance, these should be verifiable and provided with sufficient qualifying information to ensure that prospective students are not misled.
Alex Hayman, Managing Director of Which? University, said:
"It is critical that prospective students can trust the facts that higher education institutions are putting forward. However, we've found numerous examples of universities falling short. We want universities to act responsibly in line with the ASA's guidelines as thousands across the country prepare to apply for the next step of their education in the coming weeks and months."
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