University prospectuses are badly designed and contain "amazingly cheesy and sad images" that risk putting off applicants, a leading British designer has warned.
Wayne Hemingway, founder of the Red or Dead fashion label and head of a design and consultancy firm, said prospectuses were so bad that they made buying hardware seem exciting.
Speaking at this week's Higher Education External Relations Association conference, he said that producing more compelling documents need not be expensive. He urged universities to determine what makes an institution most attractive to students and tailor their prospectuses accordingly.
Mr Hemingway said that many administrators still held elitist attitudes and did not believe more attention should be paid to the branding of their university.
"It doesn't have to be all about spin - a good image can help to set the agenda both inside and outside an institution," he said.
Mr Hemingway also called on universities to be more responsive to the needs of would-be students.
He said that two of his four children were considering which university to attend and he told the conference that his eldest son had sent emails to eight institutions. Not one replied with a tailored response to his inquiry about a multidisciplinary design degree.
Poor customer relations by universities would lead young people to question the value of obtaining a degree, he said.