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ASCI to introduce advertising code for educational sector

MUMBAI: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is introducing a new set of advertising guidelines for the educational sector to curb the influence of misleading ads on parents and kids.


The new advertising content guidelines will apply to ads of all educational institutions, coaching classes and educational programmes.


The draft of the guidelines has been put up for review, feedback and suggestions on ASCI‘s official website, ascionline.org.


Educational institutes are emerging as one of the leading ad spenders in India and, in order to stand out, are boldly announcing that they ‘breed‘ the best students while some even go to the extent of guaranteeing fat salary packages post their degrees.


According to Tam AdEx, TV advertising of ‘education‘ sector is up 51 per cent during the six-month run through June compared to the year-ago period.


Within the category, educational institutions with 78 per cent share lead the advertising of ‘education‘ sector on TV, followed by computer education centre and coaching centre/competitive exams at second and third place with nine per cent and seven per cent share respectively.


Disturbed by the ‘bad‘ influence of these ads, the ASCI has called its members, educationists, institutions and the general public to send in their suggestions and feedback on the proposed guidelines by 6 September, 2010 to The Secretary General of ASCI.
 
 
Says IBS Pune director and ASCI chairman Prof Dhananjay Keskar, "ASCI recognises the role of educational institutions in building the country‘s intellectual capital and the value parents place in them for getting the right education for their children. Unlike other tangible products and services, the value of education and training programmes can only be judged by degrees and diplomas, which are advertised in a variety of ways. ASCI realises that a variety of these claims in advertisements need to be regulated through a set of guidelines tailor-made for the education sector."
 
The proposed advertising guidelines for educational institutions prohibit institutions and programmes from claiming recognition, authorisation, accreditation, or affiliations without having proper evidence. The proposed guidelines also require that name and place of the affiliated institution which provides degrees and diplomas on behalf of the advertiser who may not be accredited by a mandatory authority, is also prominently displayed in the ad.


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


Institutions will also be discouraged from claiming success in placements, student compensations, admission to renowned institutes, marks and rankings, and topper student testimonials unless every such claim is substantiated with evidence.
 
 
"Recently, ASCI has been receiving several intra-industry complaints against claims being made in ads of various educational institutions. Many students and parents too have complained to ASCI against claims made in advertisements by educational institutions," adds Prof. Keskar.


After 6 September and based on the feedback received from the public and concerned stakeholders, the ASCI Committee will finalise the guidelines and put it up for ASCI board‘s approval. Once the board approves the final draft, the guidelines will become a part of the ASCI‘s Code for self regulation in advertising.


Notably, the subject of advertising in educational sector was discussed in the recently held ASCI‘s ‘Seminar on Marketing Responsibly‘. A panel of professionals and educationists had underlined the need for special guidelines for regulating advertising in the education sector in India along the lines of Self Regulatory Organisations (SRO) around the world such as in South Africa and Brazil.


In the recent past, ASCI had put out specific guidelines for advertisements in automobile and food & beverage sectors.

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