Falmouth University has said inaccurate claims that it was the UK's number one arts university have not been used in advertising for some time, following an Advertising Standards Authority ruling.

The university had used the phrases "The UK’s No 1 Arts University" and "The UK’s Number One Creative University" in its prospectus and on its website, respectively, and the claims were reported to the ASA.

Two complainants, one of whom was an academic, questioned the existence of arts and creative categories in league tables and pointed out that higher ranking universities offered creative courses, but the university said all of its courses were creative and its claims were based on a defined subset of “arts universities” in The Times and Sunday Times University League Table.

It said this subset included five universities with a focus on the arts, although neither the ASA or Falmouth University has named the other four institutions, and it had been ranked number one within this group in 2015, 2016 and 2017. It was also the highest ranked of those five in the Guardian University Guide and Complete University Guide in 2017.

The ASA said: "Falmouth University said that 'arts university' and 'creative university' were well understood terms in the higher education sector. It noted that other universities in the group had used this term in their marketing communications; therefore other universities also recognised the defined subset of arts and creative universities in question."

However the authority ruled against the university and found the claims to be unsubstantiated and likely to mislead and said the university should not run any advertisements including them.

The ASA also noted that other universities that were known for their art and creative courses were not included within the sub-group, while other universities offering arts courses ranked above Falmouth in the tables.

It said: "We considered that consumers were not likely to be familiar enough with the course offerings of various universities in order to differentiate between universities that solely offered creative subjects from those that offered creative subjects as well as other disciplines, unless it was made explicitly clear in the university’s name.

"We considered that these 'No 1' rankings were generated through narrowing down the pool of competitors from the overall league tables which included all other institutions, and there did not appear to be separate groups of defined 'arts' or 'creative' universities in these league tables. It was possible to filter the above university guides to rank institutions by subjects, such as 'art' or 'art and design' courses, however Falmouth University was not the number one ranking university for these subjects specifically in the given time periods."

Falmouth University said it had stopped using the term "Number One Arts University" this year as it was "no longer helpful with our developing course portfolio," and the ASA complaint was therefore no longer relevant.

A spokesperson for the university said: "While we must accept the ruling, we are disappointed that the ASA made this decision.

"We attributed our 'number one arts university' status to the Sunday Times league table and the body responsible for compiling the table wrote in our support during this investigation. This position was presented to us by a respected league table, not a claim we ever made independently."