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Government ads fail truthfulness exam

A-level replacement publicity slapped

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Government publicity claims that new Diplomas, designed to replace A-levels, are "accepted by all universities" were today branded misleading by regulators.

Two people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that some top universities do not accept all of the new qualifications. Cambridge, for example, only recognises the Diploma in engineering, and only when taken with physics A-level.

A radio advert had however said: "When you're thinking about what qualifications to take, have a look at the Diploma... a qualification for 14-19-year-olds that's accepted by all universities."

A national press campaign meanwhile claimed the Diploma "can get you into any university".

The Department for Children, Schools and Families argued in its submission to the ASA that it had consulted university bodies before running the ads to verify its claims. It maintained that "because all universities accepted at least one of the Diplomas, the claims in the ads were acceptable".

The regulator disagreed and found the radio campaign had been misleading and the print ads breached rules on truthfulness. It upheld the complaints and ordered neither should be repeated.

The adjudication is here.

The initial Diplomas are in engineering, construction and the built environment, IT, society, health and development, and creative and media. ®

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