Temple University Reaches Settlement with Online Students

The school will pay US$5.5 million on behalf of its business school over false rankings data.

In a legal brief dated December 21, 201B, Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, agrees to pay out nearly US$5.5 million in settlements related to two class action lawsuits. The settlements apply to anyone who enrolled between January 1, 2015, and December 7, 2018, in one of seven online programs offered by the university's Fox School of Business and Management.

The lawsuits arose after an independent review revealed that the school had misrepresented data it submitted for consideration in business school rankings. Specifically, the school overstated applicants' Graduate Management Admission Test scores and undergraduate applicants' average grade point averages. It also introduced errors related to admission offers and student debt.

In response, U.S. News & World Report has dropped the school from its ranking of online programs, where the school had held the No.1 position.

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of two separate groups. The first comprises students formerly enrolled in the school's Online MBA program. These individuals will receive part of $4 million. The agreement also requires the university to institute more rigorous oversight of its submission of rankings data, including the creation of an anonymous hotline where individuals can report wrongdoing. In addition, the school must issue a formal apology to the student body, create a $5,000 scholarship in business ethics, create a dean's student advisory council and an ethics and data integrity committee, and provide former students with career counseling and free access to the program's recorded materials.

The second group comprises students who had enrolled in any of six other programs, including the Global EMBA, part-time MBA, online BBA, executive MBA, and online master of science programs in human resource management and digital innovation in marketing. These individuals will receive part of $1.475 million, as well as the nonmonetary relief listed above.

Moshe Po rat, dean of the Fox School during the reporting period in question, has denied knowledge of the misrepresentations. Po rat and at least one other employee were let go soon after these findings came to light, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Last July, Ronald C. Anderson, professor and finance department chair, was appointed interim dean.

"Temple must do all it can to ensure that there is no recurrence of this problem in the future; we are committed to doing so," write Richard Englert, the university's president, and JoAnne Epps, its provost, in a July 25, 201B, commentary published by the Inquirer. "The public must be able to trust what we say and do .... For this reason, we will continue to insist on complete transparency and cooperation with any other agency or organization that undertakes its own review of these issues."

Read the settlement agreement.