Reading University to remove 'top 1%' worldwide claim after complaint

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Hopkins Building, University Of Reading

Reading University has agreed to remove a claim that it is among the "top 1%" of universities worldwide following a complaint to the advertising watchdog.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) approached the university after a complainant said the 1% claim was misleading and could not be substantiated.

The university had agreed to remove the claim from its website and other marketing.

The ASA said: "We received a complaint about a claim on the University of Reading's website that it is in the 'top 1%' of universities worldwide.

"The complainant considered that the claim was misleading and could not be substantiated.

"We approached the University of Reading with the concerns that had been raised. It has agreed to remove the 'top 1%' claim from its website and in other marketing materials without the need for a formal investigation.

"On that basis we consider that the matter has been informally resolved and have closed the case."

The decision, which will be published on the ASA's website next week, means there is no need for a formal investigation or ruling.

Reading is at joint 188th place in the top 200 of the QS World University Rankings 2018, released today, down from 175th place last year.

The top three are US universities - MIT, Stanford and Harvard.

Cambridge is the highest-ranked UK university at fifth place, followed by Oxford (6), University College London (7) and Imperial College London (8).

Charles Heymann, the University of Reading's head of corporate communications, told the BBC he welcomed the clarification over how universities can present global rankings.

He said: "The ASA now needs to investigate every single other UK university which claims it is in the top 1% in the world, rather than waiting for individual complaints to be made."

Referring to the university's top 200 Times Higher Education and QS rankings, he said: "Like dozens of other UK universities in recent years, we judged this put us in the top 1% out of an estimated 20,000 institutions internationally.

"We accept, though, the ASA's view that this could not be proved given no league table assesses every single university worldwide."