ASCI guidelines to tame edu institutions' misleading ads

New code ready to be implemented from 1st Dec

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | October 22, 2010



Advertisements of educational institutes, coaching classes and educational programmes will now be governed by specific guidelines.

Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the apex self-regulatory body for the advertising content of the Indian advertising industry, had introduced the draft code two months back, and has now announced that the final set of guidelines is ready to be implemented from December 1.

Unlike a tangible product, in the field of education and training the value of a program is judged by diplomas/degrees and other levels of qualifications offered, nomenclatures, icons, claims, affiliations, testimonials etc.

There have been complaints by the students who fell in the trap of misleading advertisements claiming a high ranking, impressive buildings and infrastructure, students’ testimonials and job placements.

Rajiv Dube, ASCI’s newly elected chairman, said, “We received a number of suggestions and inputs on the draft guidelines, largely from the citizens and institutes. Such a response reinforced the importance we placed on the education sector and the need to treat it as a special case. We hope that the code will reduce incidences of wrongful advertising in the education sector.”

The guidelines, among other things, prohibit institutions and programs from claiming recognition, authorisation, accreditation, or affiliations without providing proper evidence.

The guidelines also require that the name and place of the affiliated institution which provides degrees and diplomas on behalf of the advertiser and which may not be accredited by a statutary authority, to be prominently displayed in the ad.

The final code prohibits advertisements claiming comparative ranking of institutes without giving details of the ranking organisation and the date the ranking was published.

Also, it prohibits display of building or infrastructure from models and computer graphics and institutions are required to show actual and existing facilities.

It also attempts to clamp down on misleading testimonials of students who may not even have been part of the educational programme, exam or subject.

Also, it is mandatory for advertisements to give exact details of students giving testimonials.The new code also asks advertisers to mention total number of students who passed out from the class, whenever they claim an absolute number of students placed in jobs.

With the new guidelines, educational institutions will not be able to promise jobs, promotions, salary increase, etc. without substantiating such claims and also assuming full responsibility in the same advertisement.

A significant amount of advertising activity is currently happening in this sector. According to the recent ADEX report, advertising by educational institutions has gone up by leaps and bounds. Last year’s figures show that 8 per cent of all advertising expenses in print media came from the education sector.

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