Centre pulls up edtech firms for mis-selling courses to parents

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs pulled up edtech firms during a meeting with them and IEC, according to sources, and aggressive misselling of courses to parents was the key concern.
Representative image
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NEW DELHI: After the Centre took serious note of mis-selling of courses to parents by edtech firms including BYJU's and its group companies, self-regulatory organisation India Edtech Consortium (IEC) on Saturday said it is committed to protecting consumer interest and has resolved 100 per cent complaints received till June.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs pulled up edtech firms during a meeting with them and IEC, according to sources, and aggressive misselling of courses to parents was the key concern.

The IEC, which comes under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and has created a two-tier grievance redressal mechanism, said that it has resolved all complaints received until June 2022 complaints received in July were going through active screening for faster resolutions.

"The edtech sector is extremely dynamic in nature and therefore, to address the rising challenges, what IEC is proactively doing will certainly propel a stronger ecosystem in the coming times," Aruna Sharma said.

The IEC also said that each member company has appointed a dedicated grievance officer internally to address and assess the problem and offer remedial action accordingly.

The IEC-member companies are also registering at the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) for streamlining the resolution process, it added.

"Edtech as a strong community has been far more responsible and prompt than our traditional counterpart in managing consumer complaints and grievances," said Mayank Kumar, UpGrad Co-founder and MD and Chair at IEC.

The recent reports have said that as per the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) data, 33 per cent of complaints are filed against the education sector.

However, the official statement by ASCI also states that 6 per cent of the total complaints received are against the edtech companies while the remaining 94 per cent are filed against the traditional education system, according to the IEC.

Earlier this month, the Centre warned edtech companies against unfair trade practices.

In a meeting with the IEC, Consumer Affairs Secretary, Rohit Kumar Singh, said that if self-regulation does not curb unfair trade practices, then stringent guidelines would be formulated for ensuring transparency.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the IAMAI, along with IEC member companies including upGrad, BYJU'S, Unacademy, Vedantu, Great Learning, WhiteHat Jr, and Sunstone.

The IEC comprises edtech startups and represents 95 per cent of the Indian learner community.

During the meeting, issues pertaining to unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements for the Indian edtech sector figured prominently.

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