‘No 100% selection promise in ads by coaching centres’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

‘No 100% selection promise in ads by coaching centres’

By, New Delhi
Jan 10, 2024 05:42 AM IST

experts say the COMPETITION AMONG STUDENTS ALONG WITH exaggerated assurances of success often drive aspirants to suicide

The statutory Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) on Tuesday published a set of draft guidelines for commercial coaching institutes, making it an offence to make any type of guaranteed claims, such as selection to prelims or assured ranks and scores, among other rules, related to advertisements.

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Fierce competition to secure an engineering or a medical seat and exaggerated assurances of success often drive aspirants to suicide, a key reason why the government is seeking to tighten regulations.

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The CCPA held consultations with representatives of major coaching institutes of the country to apprise them of the draft guidelines as “we want it to be a participatory and democratic process”, an official said, wishing anonymity.

Coaching institutes are an enormous business in the country, which offer scores of courses for virtually every competitive examination, including entrance tests for government services, bank jobs, law, engineering and medical colleges, the coveted Indian Administrative Service and even school board exams.

According to a National Sample Survey, nearly 70 million, or 26% of all students, take some form of coaching in the country. There have been increasing instances of misleading ads, promising assured admissions to universities and even “100% selection” to government services, which require passing tough entrance exams, the official said.

“The idea behind the proposed guidelines is to have a complete and honest disclosure of the institute’s credentials to the prospective students,” Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary, Union consumer affairs ministry, told HT, separately. “Any exaggeration or misrepresentation must be liable as a misleading advertisement.”

Kota in Rajasthan is a well-known coaching town which has hogged headlines for student suicides. In 2023, 26 students committed suicide, the highest number in Kota in a calendar year since 2015. Fifteen aspirants of competitive exams had died by suicide in Kota in 2022, 18 in 2019, 20 in 2018, seven in 2017, 17 in 2016, and 18 in 2015.

An analysis done by HT, published on October 12, 2023, showed that more than half of them who decided to end their lives were younger than 18 years and 12 of them died within six months of arriving in the city.

Some coaching institutes have been found to assure “100% selection to prelims”, which refers to preliminaries of the Indian Administrative Service, which comprises the main bureaucracy who tun affairs of the country. Such offers constitute misleading advertisements, which will now attract fines and punishment prescribed under the country’s Consumer Protection Act.

Among draft measures proposed by the CCPA, coaching institutes “shall not make claim 100% selection or 100% job guaranteed or guaranteed preliminary or mains (for IAS entrances)”.

The consumer affairs ministry will put curbs on how institutes advertise successful candidates who had enrolled at their centres, a common practice to attract prospective students. They must mention requisite information with a successful candidate’s photo, including rank secured by the student, course opted by the successful candidate and whether her coaching was free or paid for.

Penalties for misleading advertisement by coaching sector will be governed by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which will be fixed.

“Coaching centres are caught in the vortex of intense rivalry and trying every trick, from straightforward pitches to offers of cash and cars and even blackmailing to lure the brightest students to leverage association with the toppers later,” said Keshav Agarwal, dean of Royal Global School.

The CCPA has issued notices to 31 coaching institutes for misleading advertisement and imposed fines on nine for misleading advertisement. The official declined to name the institutes because appeals were still being heard.

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    Zia Haq reports on public policy, economy and agriculture. Particularly interested in development economics and growth theories.

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