Temple Univ. settles with Dept. of Ed. over accusations of falsifying school ranking

The U.S. Department of Education and Temple University reached a settlement amid allegations of the school falsifying U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Temple University will pay $700,000 as a result of the settlement.

The Department of Education announced a settlement with Temple University in Philadelphia over accusations it falsified information submitted to U.S. News and World Report for the outlet's annual college ranking.

The DOE alleged that Temple’s Fox School of Business and Management submitted false information between 2014 and 2018. Temple University agreed to pay $700,000 as part of the settlement but maintained it did nothing wrong.

The DOE investigation was sparked in 2018 after U.S. News & World Report announced Temple University had submitted false ranking information. The report stated that misinformation provided by the school ranked the school higher than what it would have been ranked had it submitted accurate information. 

As a result, Temple was moved to the “Unranked” section.

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The settlement announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stated that the department believes Temple University purposefully misrepresented itself.

“The Department believes that, to increase enrollment, grow revenue, and harm competitors, Temple’s Fox School knowingly, intentionally, and substantially misrepresented the nature of certain of its educational program by advertising the false rankings by U.S. News and World Report thousands of times via online portals, social media, fully wrapped buses and newsstands, highway billboard signs, and advertisements at airport terminals, on trains, at train stations, in magazines, in newspapers, and on television and radio," the settlement states.

The settlement will require Temple University to pay a $700,000 fine but allows it to not admit any liability. 

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Temple University also agreed to pay more than $5 million as part of a settlement for “fraudulent and deceptive business practices.” The student who filed the suit, Kyle Smith, was enrolled in the Fox School of Business Online MBA program.

The lawsuit stated that the university knew the ranking was false and used “deceptive practices” to help with its enrollment. The university stated, “the settlement does not constitute an admission of liability.” 

“At all relevant times, Temple knew that its Online MBA program’s No. 1 ranking by U.S. News, was a false representation of fact, based upon lies and fabricated data provided by Temple. Temple's unfair competition and deceptive practices, as described above, actually deceived or had the tendency to deceive a substantial segment of its Online MBA student body, prospective applicants to the Online MBA program and the general public at large," stated the lawsuit.

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Temple University Assistant Vice President of University Communications Raymond Betzner told Campus Reform that the school is happy to have the matter resolved. He also stated that the university has been transparent throughout the process and will ensure that misreporting doesn’t happen again.

“As part of a broad-sweeping corrective measures, Temple implemented a robust set of practices to ensure that data misreporting with respect to rankings will never occur again," Betzner said.

Betzner also stated that the university will award $250,000 in scholarships to enrolling students in the Fox School program.

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“In addition, as part of its resolution with Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Temple committed to awarding $250,000 in scholarships in the coming years to students enrolling in the affected Fox School programs. Further, in 2019, the university resolved a class action lawsuit, addressing the claims of students who believe they were impacted by the inaccurate ratings," Betzner said.

Campus Reform reached out to the Department of Education for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

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