Instead of prospectuses and stalls at international recruitment fairs, should universities try to attract overseas students through the cinema?
Instead of focusing on international university rankings, should they be looking at box office takings?
Sir Anthony Seldon, vice chancellor of Buckingham University and former headmaster of Wellington College, says: "Television and film portrayals of schools and universities are far more important in opinion formation I think than generally realised."
This is supported by a recent survey of Chinese and South Korean students in the United States, which suggested more than two thirds had been influenced by the movie image of going to an American university.
The US is the world’s biggest destination for overseas students and it brings anestimated $20bn (14bn pounds) each year to the economy.
Movies such as A Beautiful Mind set in Princeton, Legally Blonde and The Social Network in Harvard, and The Graduate in Berkeley, California, have taken the US campusexperience to a global audience, showcasing everything from the academic facilities to wild fraternity parties.
In the UK, the University of Leicester has made itself "open to business" to Bollywood, hosting three films since 2001. Part of the deal struck with the 2013 film Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 was that the lead actor would say on screen that he graduated from Leicester.
University spokesman Ather Mirza says the Bollywood connection gives Leicester an advantage in a crowded marketplace.
Universities in New Zeland have benefited from The Lord of the Rings effect.
Film can also be used to change negative perceptions of a person or place.
In 2009 there were high profile protests in both Australia and India after a series of violent attacks on Indian students in Australia.
This was followed by a very sharp decline in Indian students choosing Australian universities, which was a serious problem in such an important student market.
So Prateek Chakravorty, a Bollywood director and alumnus of University of Technology Sydney, made From Sydney With Love about an Indian student at University of New South Wales.
"I studied at UTS, and for me the experience was very good, so I made a film about it," said Mr Chakravorty.
The film, which opened in 900 cinemas in India, showed two students falling in love to the backdrop of the Sydney university buildings, Bondi Beach and the opera house.
By 2014 the numbers of Indian students in Australia were rising again.
The global success of the Harry Potter films has been claimed as a factor in encouraging overseas students to come to British boarding schools.
There are also risks associated with appearing in films.
University administrators can be stereotyped as unreasonable and pedantic - the Will Ferrell comedy Old School is one of many about students fighting an unsympathetic dean.
Television and film have even been linked to mistakes made by students.
An audit into trainee doctors in Canada several years ago found many were making the same mistake in one particular piece of surgery.
An investigation found many claimed to have been influenced by medical dramas - and further inquiries showed that the same procedure had been shown 26 times in the medical drama ER, with none depicting the approved technique.
But the case of the University of Leicester shows how movies can be used to help recruit international students.
When universities are competing hard for the attention of overseas students, the cinema screen could be an under-recognised way of raising a global profile.