De Montfort University, with campuses at Leicester and Milton Keynes, is to spend pounds 500,000 on a campaign in the press, the cinema and on television to tell 17 to 19-year-olds of the benefits of studying there.
The campaign will be backed by a 24-hour telephone hotline on which trained students, graduates and staff will provide a 'consumer' view of the courses on offer.
The advertising begins this Friday, timed to coincide with the period when sixth-formers get their A-level results and when those a year behind them begin filling in UCAS forms for university entrance next year. It will run during Brookside and The Big Breakfast on Channel 4, as well as in 550 cinemas, concentrating on London, the South-east, the Midlands and East Anglia, the university's biggest catchment area.
The university, which has 16,000 students, says the advertising is not prompted by a fear of lack of applicants, but a desire to get the right kind of students. It made the move after its own research suggested that many sixth-formers were poorly informed about the range of courses open to them.
The television commercial, narrated by Angus Deayton, draws on footage from BBC Television's Trials of Life series in which a sea-lion shrugs off the attack of a killer whale.
Professor Michael Brown, the university's vice-chancellor, said: 'The campaign's theme is to reassure students that in a tough world we can offer a high quality all-round education which gives them the skills and confidence to do well in the job market.'