Advertising Standards Council of India [ASCI] has been receiving several complaints from parents and students against misleading claims being made in advertisement of various educational institutions pertaining to claims of success in competitive examinations, guaranteed placement and passing, recognition and affiliation, ranking of the institutions, etc.
These Institutes as per the decision of the Advertising Council have made claims of Ranking in the Entrance Examinations, Number of successful students, Coaching and Learning Material Preparations and Contents, Test Series, Coaching Pedagogy to influence the aspirants to join their Institutes.
In December 2015, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints relating to misleading advertisements and unsubstantiated claims. The CCC found that claims in the following advertisements were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions.
1] Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt. Ltd.: The claims in the advertisement, “2116 T.I.M.E students into the IIMs alone – a total of 7379 final selections in CAT- 2014” and “Process and Results validated by an independent third party on 21/09/2015”, were not substantiated.
2] CATKing (CLAP Digital Marketing Course): The claims in the advertisement with reference to Mr Rahul Singh – “He pursued his MBA from SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai”, “He also achieved a degree in Master of Information Technology from Virginia Tech”, and “Certification from a Harvard Business School Alumni”, were false, not substantiated with evidence, and were misleading.
3] CL Educate Ltd (CAT 16/17 Program): The claims in the advertisement, “Your Gateway to IIM”, “Closest to CAT”, “9629 IIM Calls by CL students in CAT’14”, “The most comprehensive CAT ‘16/17 classroom program”, were not substantiated with supporting data. Also, the claim, “9629 IIM Calls by CL students in CAT’14”, is misleading, as it does not match with the CA report on pages 6, 7, 8 – Clause 6 – Conclusion, the total adds up to 8793 only as against 9629 IIM calls as claimed in the advertisement.
4] Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt. Ltd. (TIME Tuitions): The advertisement’s claims, “T.I.M.E., the national Leader in entrance exam training with 200+ centres across India” was not substantiated with supporting data.
5] Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt. Ltd (Aqua Regia the Science Quiz 2015): The claim in the advertisement, “Aqua Regia the Science Quiz 2015 – Certified by Guinness World Records & Limca Book of Records as the Largest Quiz Ever”, was not substantiated with supporting data.
6] Triumphant Institute of Management Education (Times Google Search Result Validation): The claim in the advertisement, “Best Coaching Institute for CAT, GATE, Bank Exams, CSAT….” is an absolute claim and was not substantiated with comparative data versus other institutes.
7] Shyamli Institute of Hotel Management: The claims in the advertisement, “recognition of hotel management courses by UGC & AICTE”, “UGC & AICTE approved” and “job guarantee” (Naukri Sunishit) were not substantiated.
5] Knowledge Station India Private Limited (The Santa Kidz): The advertisement’s claim, “Rajasthan’s No. 1 School“, was not substantiated with supporting comparative data versus other institutes. Also, the claim, “India’s 1st Brain School with D.M.I Technology”, was not substantiated and was considered to be misleading by ambiguity as the advertisement does not give any credible references to authenticate the D.M.I. technology or how the school provides the implied unique brain development benefits of D.M.I Technology over conventional practices followed in other schools.
9] Mahendra Education Pvt. Ltd (Mahendra’s No.1 Institute): The claim in the advertisement, “No. 1 Institute in India”, was not substantiated.
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was established in 1985. One of the important functions of ASCI to ensure the protection of the interests of consumers in various categories. ASCI has therefore laid down guidelines with a view to achieve the acceptance of fair advertising practices in the best interests of the ultimate consumer.
The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI deals with complaints received from Consumers and Industry, against Advertisements which are considered as False, Misleading, Indecent, Illegal, leading to Unsafe practices, or Unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising.
ASCI is also the “Executive Arm” of the Department of Consumer Affairs handling all complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements.
An old marketing strategy saying goes “ Jo Dikhta wahi bikta hai”, it would not be out of place to improvise it to say “Jo Dikhaya Jata hai, wahi bikta hai”.
Coaching Classes and Institutions have overgrown in India due to huge peer pressure and parental aspirations. It is one of the biggest sector, but still unregulated in majority part of the Country. It is high time that this sector is regulated.
Advertisements surprisingly have become one of most important medium to attract students recently amongst educational institutions.
Advertisements play a big role in deciding an Institution and it is required that it should be a responsible step devoid of inducements and falsehoods.
But my issue is, what next, what is the action that will be taken against these coaching institutions, who have indulged in misleading publications and advertisements and what about the students who found themselves on the wrong side relying upon the advertisements.
There is no effective legislation in place, which deals with these situations. MHRD look into the matter and bring effective legislation to ban such ads and take effective actions against the Institutions.
Ravi Bhardwaj | firstname.lastname@example.org
Read Earlier Releases by EduLegaL on Misleading Ads in Education Sector: