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OFS Warns Universities Over Sales Tactics

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

The Office for Students' annual report has warned universities against sales tactics such as financial inducements or "unconditional" exam-grade offers to recruit new students.

Increasing competition between institutions has raised concerns about unfair practices being put on students looking for places.

Nicola Dandridge, the higher education watchdog's chief executive has promised a review of admissions, adding: "Students can be offered enticements and inducements which are often not in their best interests, at a time when they may be especially vulnerable".

They could also face a "sales pitch with questionable incentives", as well as exaggerated claims about degree courses or the promise of bursaries for students looking for places in the clearing system after A-level results are released.

In recent years the Advertising Standards Authority has criticised universities for marketing claims that could be misleading, whilst the OFS has the power to impose fines where deemed necessary.

Despite warnings, figures show the use of unconditional offers is increasing, with a quarter of applicants receiving such as offer this year.

The review into the admissions system will start next year, with the aim to put forward recommendations before the end of the year.