Temple pays $5.5M to settle lawsuit over U.S. News ranking inflation
- Temple University has agreed to pay nearly $5.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit with students in its Fox School of Business who said the university provided inflated data to U.S. News & World Report's popular college ranking.
- The lawsuit alleged Temple claimed its entire incoming class for its online MBA program submitted a Graduate Management Admission Test score when only one-fifth of students actually did, leading to inflated average test scores and a higher spot in the ranking. U.S. News removed Temple's program from the ranking as a result. The plaintiffs said the scandal "will have a long reaching negative impact on [the] school's reputation, prestige and peer ratings."
- Temple will pay $4 million to students enrolled in its online MBA program between 2015 and 2018 and an additional $1,475,000 to students who attended six other programs within its business school over the same period. It also will establish a $5,000 scholarship in business ethics.
In August, U.S. News announced eight other colleges had reported incorrect data for its "best colleges" ranking, which students and their families regularly use to assessing American higher education institutions.
U.S. News recently announced changes to its 2019 rankings of colleges to include more information about social mobility for low-income students and to drop acceptance rate information. But some have said the move didn't go far enough and question whether the ranking provides an accurate picture of the best institutions in U.S. or if it instead rewards prestigious and highly selective colleges that perpetuate inequality.
In December, six Senate Democrats — including Sens. Cory Booker, N.J., and Kamala Harris, Calif. — penned a letter to the publication urging it to revise its ranking methodology further to acknowledge a college's diversity and inclusion. "We join others in questioning whether the changes represent a true embrace of social mobility, as your ranking system still fails to consider the extent to which colleges enroll historically underrepresented students," they wrote.
Other critics have said the onus is on individual colleges to stop using their selectivity as a marketing tactic.
Some are taking note. Stanford University, for instance, recently announced it would stop announcing the number of undergraduate applications it received — another attribute that such rankings tend to promote but that critics say don't relate to student needs. Other institutions have declined to submit survey data, though those colleges still often appear in rankings thanks to the public availability of some of their data.
Another proposed solution for prospective students to access critical data about an institution has been the U.S Department of Education's College Scorecard, which the Obama administration launched as a source of more accurate and useful information about colleges and student outcomes.
Ed Department officials in the Trump administration have said they intend to enhance the platform. However, they have been criticized because they've linked such improvements to a repeal of a gainful employment rule that sanctioned institutions that could not prove they were preparing students for the workforce.
Additionally, some critics have spoken out against an update to the scorecard this past fall that dropped the ability to compare data such as a college's graduation rates and typical earnings against the national median, Inside Higher Ed reported.
- Temple University Agreement reached in Fox School class action case