BOURNEMOUTH University has been named and shamed for using "unethical" practices to lure students into accepting places.

It is one of 24 universities criticised by Education Secretary Damian Hinds for giving unconditional offers, but only if the student puts them down as their first choice.

Known as "conditional unconditional" offers, they ensure the students and their £9,250 per person fees come to the university concerned.

They should not be confused with genuine unconditional offers which mean the student has the opportunity to attend that university regardless of whether they put it as their first or second choice.

Mr Hinds has written to the 24 universities after slamming their "pressure-selling tactics".

He said: "It is simply unacceptable for universities to adopt pressure-selling tactics, which are harming students’ grades in order to fill places.

"It is not what I expect to see from our world-class higher education institutions.'Conditional unconditional' offers are damaging the reputation of the institutions involved and our world-leading sector as a whole."

The number of unconditional offers, which do not require minimum exam grades, has increased from just over one per cent in 2013 to 34 per cent last year.

They are attractive to students because their place does not hinge on their exam results.

Mr Hinds has called on watchdog The Office for Students to launch a review.

Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge said: "Our research on unconditional offers highlighted that indiscriminate use of the practice could amount to pressure-selling and put universities in breach of consumer law.

"It is not in students’ interests to push them into decisions that may not be right for them, and admissions practices are clearly not working if they are having a negative impact on students’ choices or outcomes."

A spokesman for Bournemouth University said: "We review our admissions strategy each year, of which unconditional offers are one part, so will be considering our offer-making approach for the 2020 admissions cycle as part of this process."

Other universities on the list include Roehampton, Loughborough College, the University of Brighton, Oxford Brookes, Lancaster, Birmingham and Middlesex.