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In July 2015, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints in 25 advertisements in the Education category relating to misleading advertisements in nature of Ranking / Award / Placement Claim / Success Claim / Skill Acquisition in Competitive Examinations.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) 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.

The CCC found that claims in the advertisements by 25 advertisers were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions.

ASCI has banned misleading Ads by following Educational Institutions:

  1. Southern Academy Maritime Studies: The claim in the TVC, “if anybody who is willing to study in this college, can get a job as a Captain in a Ship and can earn upto 60 Lakhs per Annum”, was not substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and exaggeration.
  1. Aakash Educational Services Pvt. Ltd. (Aakash Institute): The advertisement claims that Twins Rahul Bansal and Sahil Bansal (AIIMS-2015 ranks 23 and 40) and Yuvraj, (AIIMS-2015 rank 11) are from their coaching institute. This was false and was not substantiated.
  1. Hansa Medcell: The claim in the advertisement, “Gain specialist skills without sacrificing daily clinical practice”, is misleading since “Distance Education” cannot allow oneto gain specialist skills in gastroenterology, cardiology etc., since all these specialities involve very special procedures like OGD Scopy and Colonoscopy (Crastroenthrology) and Angiography, Angioplasty (Cardiology) etc. As per clause 7.20 of MCI Act (Amendment 2002) one can’t call oneself a specialist unless one has acquired specialist qualifications. The Medical Council does not offer recognition to distance education programmes. In addition the claim, “provide One year distance education of post- graduation programs from prestigious American college of gastroenterology John Hopkins University School of medicine”, was false and misleading by ambiguity.
  1. Shri Maharana Pratap Private ITI: The advertisement claims, “no university or institutions are valid to provide any certifications in fire and safety except Shri Maharana Pratap ITI” and “only 4 institutions in India are valid to provide fire and safety courses”, were not substantiated and were considered to be misleading by ambiguity.
  1. BSE Institute Limited: The claim in the advertisement, “Become a Professional Banker in Just Two Months”, is misleading by ambiguity, as it is offering a “Professional banking program” conducted internally and the jobs being offered were inclusive of basic functions such as Welcome Desk.
  1. National Board of Computer Education: The claims in the advertisement, “Affiliation from International Accreditation Organization (IAO), Houston, U.S.A.”, and “Affiliation from Copy Right Division under Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India”, were not substantiated with supporting proof.
  1. AAFT School of Fashion & Design: The claim in the advertisement, “The only Fashion School associated with Film Industry”, was not substantiated.
  1. Padmashri K. K. Shastri Educational Campus: The use of Padmashree prefix before a name as used in the advertisement confers an unjustified advantage on the advertised product (Educational Campus) as such reference. This violates Chapter I.3 of the ASCI code.
  1. CL Educate Ltd: The claim in the advertisement, “61/100 toppers in CLAT ’15 are LSTians”, was not substantiated.
  1. Global Inc Training Centre: The claims in the advertisement, “Assured C.T.C. Rs.14K to Rs.22K per Month” and “100% Guaranteed Placement under Money Bank (OR MONEY BACK) Scheme”, were not substantiated adequately with supporting data.
  1. Rabiya Industrial Training Institute: The claims in the advertisement, “100% Job” and “The One and Only One Accredited Learning Center in State of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal & Jharkhand”, were not substantiated.
  1. The English Square: The claim in the advertisement, “Learn to speak fluent English in just 100 hours with 100% Guarantee”, was not substantiated.

Complaints against advertisements of all educational institutes listed below mostly are UPHELD because of unsubstantiated claims that they ‘provide 100% placement/AND/OR they claim to be the No.1 in their respective fields’: 

Endeavor, Indus Early Learning Centre, Thangavelu College Engineering, Indian Institute of Medical Representative Private Limited, GCS Institute of Computer Technology, Rama Naidu Film School, Patel Computers, Red & Multimedia Education White, Shree Venkateshwara Hi-Tech Engineering College, Shri Guru Ram Rai Institute of Technology & Science, Career Master, Capital Infosys Institute of Hotel Management & Tourism and Brilliant Tutorial.

ASCI is recognized under ‘The Cable Television Network Rules, 1994’ which states that ‘No advertisement which violates the Code for self-regulation in advertising, as adopted by the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI), Mumbai, for public exhibition in India, from time to time, shall be carried in the cable service’.

EduLegaL View: 

Advertisements surprisingly have become one of most important medium to attract students recently amongst educational institutions. A career has lot of emotions attached to it. Parents make great personal sacrifices to enable their children to get the right education. 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 educational 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. 

The Argument can continue!

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in 

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