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In a major crackdown on Advertisements released by the Management Institutes and even some Private Universities, the Advertisement Standard Council of India, has in its decision of March 2016 has found several of their ads to be misleading, unsubstantiated and ambiguous.

These Institutes as per the decision of the Advertising Council have made either false or unsubstantiated claims of percentage of placements, salary packages, nature of placement assistance extended to the students, which are likely to mislead the students and induce them in seeking admissions with these Institutes.

In March 2016, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against major Management Institutes and in some cases shocking reputed Private Universities, relating to misleading advertisements and unsubstantiated claims in their Advertisements. The CCC found that claims in the following advertisements were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions.

  1. Jaipuria Institute of Management: The advertisement’s claim, “Near 100% Placement with average package of Rs.5.68 lac and highest package of Rs.13 lac”, was not substantiated with authentic data. Also, the claim of “Near 100% Placement” was misleading by ambiguity in the absence of disclaimer/qualifier.
  1. Indira Institute of Management: The advertisement’s claim, “Average Salary Package Rs.5 Lacs per annum (Highest salary Rs.8 lacs per annum)”, was not substantiated and was misleading.
  1. Manipal University Jaipur: The advertisement’s claim, “Average Package 4.45 Lakhs”, was not substantiated and was misleading. 12. Faculty of Management Studies – Institute of Rural Management: The advertisement’s claims, “100% Placement Record” and “Highest Package 2015 SBI, Escorts @ Rs.9.0 Lacs”, were not substantiated and were misleading.
  1. Jagannath University: The advertisement’s claim, “100% Placement Assistance”, and “Package upto 6 lacs”, were not substantiated. Also, the claim, “100% Placement Assistance” is likely to mislead the consumers as it implies that the advertiser gives assistance for 100% placement. Also, as assistance cannot be a quantifiable measure and could have a wide range of modalities, the claim was misleading by ambiguity.
  1. MATS Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Package Offered – International – 28 Lakhs / annum – Domestic- 15 Lakhs / annum”, was not substantiated with evidence to prove that the individual students were indeed given the salary offer and was misleading.
  1. Jaipuria Institute of Management (Jaipuria MBA): The advertisement’s claims, “Get assured 100% placement in TOP NOTCH Company by 160+recruiters” and “Jaipuria MBA provides 100% ROI with Rs.9.6 Lacs highest package and Rs.4.5 Lacs average package”, were not substantiated and were misleading.
  1. Shri Ram Murti Smarak International Business School: The advertisement’s claims, “Salary Package – 2011-13 – Minimum: 3.00 Average: 4.00, 2012-14 – Minimum: 3.22 Average: 4.20”, “% of Placements at the end of the Trimester (2012-14) – IVth Trimester – 52% Vth Trimester – 24% VIth Trimester – 24%” and “100% Placement assistance”, were not substantiated. Also, the claim, “100% Placement assistance”, was likely to mislead the consumers that the advertiser is giving 100% assistance for placements.
  1. Saveetha School of Management: The advertisement’s claim, “Dynamic corporate relationship for 100% placements”, was not substantiated with supporting data. Also, the claim was misleading by ambiguity in the absence of disclaimer/qualifier.
  1. ICBM-School of Business Excellence: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Salary 6.2 L & Avg Salary 3.6 L”, was not substantiated with evidence to prove that the individual students were indeed given the salary offer. Further the claim in the advertisement, “100% Placements”, was not substantiated with details of batch size, enrolment forms, appointment letters and contact details of the students who got placements, for verification and was considered to be misleading by ambiguity.
  1. Indus Business Academy: The advertisement’s claim, “5.4 Lacs Average CTC”, was not substantiated and was misleading.
  1. Holy Grace Academy of Management Studies: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Placement in India in 2007 Batch. Rs.1 Crore Annum”, was not substantiated adequately and was misleading by exaggeration.
  1. Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR): The advertisement’s claim, “An average Package of 6 lakhs and highest package of 12 lakhs”, was not substantiated adequately. Also, the claim was misleading by ambiguity about the job location and corresponding salary in foreign currency.
  1. Institute of Management Research & Technology: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Salary 5.5 Lac Avg. Salary 2.2 Lac”, was not substantiated and was misleading.
  1. Mangalmay Institute of Management & Technology: The advertisement’s claim, “The average salary for MBA placements in Delhi NCR, Noida and Greater Noida has been Rs.4.5 Lacs p.a.”, was not substantiated with supporting data and is misleading by ambiguity.

Complaints against advertisements of   Gitam School of International Business, JK Lakshmipat University, Dr.D.Y Patil Vidyapeeth Global Business School & Research Centre, Jain Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship, M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Management and Asian School of Business Management were UPHELD because of unsubstantiated claims that they ‘provide 100% placement/AND/OR they claim to be the No.1 in their respective fields’.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was established in 1985. One of the important functions1ASCI_380 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.

EduLegaL View:

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”.

Education is one of strongest pillars of our HR Index and 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 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 | mail@edulegal.in 

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