The advertising which was accompanied by a male voice over referred to the following:
“UL has always been dynamic with the highest graduate employment in Irish universities. The largest opportunity for international learning, the most comprehensive work placement programme and unmatched for 1st year accommodation on what the Sunday Times calls ‘One of the world’s most beautiful campuses’.
Book your place at ul.ie/open days Thursday and Friday October 20th and 21st.”
The complainant challenged the claim that the University of Limerick had the highest graduate employment of any university in Ireland. She considered this statement to be very misleading for students who may be trying to decide on which college to attend.
The advertisers said that according to the Higher Education Authority of Ireland and its Higher Education System Performance Report 2013/14, its most recent report and analysis, the University of Limerick had the highest level of undergraduate (level 8) employment of any Irish University. They said the highest employment rate for undergraduates was a highly important attribute for the University to have. The advertisers forwarded a copy of the Report referenced with their response.
In responding further to the complaint the advertisers said that the advertising in question had been targeted at school leavers and its purpose had been to promote UL as a university of choice for 1st year students. They said this had been apparent from the choice of wording used “the most comprehensive work placement programme and unmatched for 1st year accommodation”. Furthermore, they said the advertisement had aired during what was effectively ‘CAO season’ when the entire sector, 6th years and career guidance counsellors were focussed on the selection of third level places.
The advertisers said that the radio advertisement which was the subject matter of the complaint had been part of an overall campaign aimed at 6th Year students applying to universities. The advertisers enclosed a copy of their brochure for their open day which demonstrated that the undergraduate courses referenced were courses that had to be applied for via the CAO procedures. The brochure had also featured an Annual National Essay– writing competition for secondary school pupils from Transition, 5th and 6th years. The advertisers considered that this demonstrated further that the target audience for their advertising had been those applying for college places after completion of their secondary school education.
The advertisers also said that the term ‘graduate’ is generally understood in normal parlance as meaning a graduate from an undergraduate degree.
Complaint not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint, the advertisers’ response and the Higher Education System Performance Report referenced by the advertisers. The Committee also noted the target audience for the advertising and the purpose of the Campaign in targeting those applying for university courses for the first time.
The Committee understood that the phraseology used in universities in relation to employment opportunities for graduates was ‘graduate employment’. They noted that the Higher Education System Performance Report had indicated that the University of Limerick had the highest overall level of graduate employment rates when compared to other Irish Universities and in the circumstances did not uphold the complaint.
No further action was required in this case.