The figures, revealed following a Freedom of Information request, show that the university spent £2,582,000 on promoting itself in 2013 to 2014, while advertising costs racked up to £168,711.

This included spending £64,100 advertising on student and national newspaper websites, £56,275 on posters placed on public transport and at train and bus stations, and £265,000 paying wages and costs involved in running the university’s communications department.

The university, which was ranked joint 38th in the country by The Guardian in June, teaches 17,000 students a year and employs 4,000 staff. Spokesman Charles Heymann stressed it needs to proactively market itself to new students and that it cannot be a “shrinking violet”.

He said: “We’re a big organisation generating jobs and growth throughout the region. “We operate three UK campuses, Henley Business School, Africa in Johannesburg and are building a state-of-the-art new campus in Malaysia, alongside a new £50m Science Park, which will be home to dozens of new-start-ups and firms locally.

“No university can rest on its laurels. We’re operating in a highly competitive and global market for students. The Coalition’s funding reforms puts the onus on universities to proactively and aggressively market themselves to potential under and post-graduates, as well as for research and other investment. “There is no point in being a shrinking violet — institutions have got to get out there and sell themselves hard.”

The university charges tuition fees of £9,000 a year, and 89 per cent of students said they were happy with their experience there, according to the National Student Survey 2013.

Mr Heymann said: “We work hard to get value for money out of every single penny we invest.

“Our marketing costs cover all our recruitment and outreach work, our new national student advertising campaign Are You Ready?, all our internal staff and student communications, and our in-house design and print function for the entire university.

“There is also our corporate events team, including activities for 60,000 local people a year, as well as our press, social media, website and digital development teams.”