Ad for university applicants’ personal statement service banned

An ad for a personal statement writing service for university applicants has been banned for suggesting that students could submit the letters as their own without risk.

Oxbridge Personal Statements offered statements that were “full of personality” and written with “your talents and character firmly in mind, ensuring that your statement sells your skills in a uniquely personal manner”.

It said on its website: “We write and edit custom personal statements for students applying to all universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, as well as for professionals seeking specialist application support.

Oxbridge Personal Statements
Oxbridge Personal Statements

“Our expert writing and editing team provide an ideal way to perfect your personal statement without losing the element that will make it most special: you! We will help you find your unique voice whilst highlighting your strengths and abilities.”

A reader complained that the ad misleadingly implied that students could submit the personal statement they bought as their own.

Oxbridge Personal Statements said consumers who used its service were not allowed to submit the work they purchased directly to universities, adding that it was intended to be used as a model on which to base their own work.

They explained that the terms and conditions had previously included a clause which stated that the work was to be used as a model answer only and this had since been added back in.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the website’s home page gave the overall impression that consumers would be able to submit the personal statements as their own.

The ASA said: “We acknowledged that when consumers asked the company if they could submit the work as their own they were told that they could not, but we noted that consumers could go through the purchase process without speaking to a member of staff.

“Because we considered consumers would expect from the ad that they could submit the purchased personal statements as their own without risks, which was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”

It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.