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Education ads flunk accuracy test

 An advertisement by Noida-based Amity University placing it among Asia's top-ranked universities has been labelled "misleading" by the advertising industry's self-regulatory watchdog.

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   Published 19.10.15, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, Oct. 18: An advertisement by Noida-based Amity University placing it among Asia's top-ranked universities has been labelled "misleading" by the advertising industry's self-regulatory watchdog.

A coaching agency, Career Launcher, too issued an unsubstantiated ad, says the Advertising Standards Council of India, which has faulted nine establishments over their advertisements.

The other seven are Sagar School, Alwar; DPSG School, Dehradun; Green Valley High School, Vadodara; Koneru Lakshmaiah Education Foundation (KL University), Vijayawada; and the coaching institutes BYJU's Classes, CLAT Possible and the Institute of Finance Banking and Insurance (IFBI).

Council secretary-general Shweta Purandare said the watchdog had received complaints against these nine in May and June and asked the institutes to respond with documents within five working days.

Earlier this month, it decided to uphold the complaints and told these institutions to modify their ads. If they don't, the council can send a recommendation for punishment to the government.

Amity, a private university, had claimed it had been "ranked among the top universities in Asia by QS, a leading ranking organisation". Purandare said it was found to have been placed "between 251 and 300 among ranked Asian institutions in 2014".

"They should have made it clear that (Amity) was among the top 300. This advertisement is misleading by omission," Purandare said.

She said Amity had also failed to substantiate its claim that QS had ranked its distance learning programmes "#18 worldwide".

"Amity's MBA programme in distance mode was ranked 18th worldwide by QS. They should have specifically said 'MBA', not 'distance learning programmes'."

Amity vice-president, corporate communication, Sabita Mehta said the QS website puts all ranked institutions under the heading "Top universities in Asia by QS".

"We have quoted exactly the way the QS website puts the list," she said, adding: "The omission (of 'MBA') was not deliberate."

She said Amity had sent "proof" to the council, which had "not responded yet".

Career Launcher had claimed that "3 out of 5 toppers in CLAT (the Common Law Admission Test) 2015 are CLSTians", while "7 (were) state toppers & counting". Its officials could not be reached.

Sagar School had claimed receiving the "International School Award 2014-2017" from the British Council. "How can the school get the award for a prospective period?" Purandare wondered.

Priya Samita, the school's PR executive, said the ad was based on a certificate from the British Council.

One of Koneru's ads styled it the "leader in placements"; another said "KL University created history with 65% placements on Day One (2014-2015)". Its director (media) Gopal Rao said documents had been sent to the council.

Council sources said BYJU's claim that its students had an "excellent success ratio" in the JEE Main, and CLAT's claim of "Rank 1 in CLAT & AILET" were unfounded. The IFBI's "Become a senior officer in a bank in just 6 months" was "misleading".

Green Valley's claims of "17 acre lush green campus" and "20 students per class" were unsubstantiated, they said, as was DPSG's claim to being the "Best CBSE day school of India now in Dehradun".

Repeated attempts to contact these institutes were unsuccessful.

Ravi Bharadwaj, a lawyer, said the government or higher education regulator UGC should act against these institutes.

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