Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will soon introduce a new set of advertising guidelines for the educational sector. 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, www.ascionline.org. The council has called its members, educationists, institutions and the general public to send in their suggestions and feedback on the proposed guidelines by September 6 to the secretary general of ASCI on email IDs firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
The new set of guidelines takes note of the fact that a significant amount of advertising activity is currently happening in the education sector, reflecting the vast variety of educational programmes being offered in the country.
According to the recent ADEX report, advertising by educational institutions have gone up by leaps and bounds. Last year's figures show that 8 per cent of the total advertising expenses in print media came from the educational sector. This is a significant increase compared to the advertising expenses just a few years ago.
According to Prof. Dhananjay Keskar, chairperson, ASCI and director, IBS Pune, who also heads the committee for drafting the guidelines, the council 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," he says.
The proposed advertising guidelines for educational institutions, among other things, prohibits institutions and programmes from claiming recognition, authorisation, accreditation, or affiliations without having proper evidence. The 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.
Additionally, educational institutions will not be able to promise jobs, admissions, job promotions and salary increases without substantiating such claims and also assuming full responsibility in the same advertisement. The proposed guidelines discourage institutions from claiming success in placements, student compensations, admission to renowned institutes, marks and rankings, and topper student testimonials unless every such claim is substantiated.
"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," says Prof. Keskar.
The subject of advertising in the educational sector was discussed in a seminar recently held by ASCI, titled 'Seminar on Marketing Responsibly', where an eminent panel of professionals and educationists underlined the need for special guidelines to regulate 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 has put out specific guidelines for advertisements in automobile and food and beverage sectors.