Attorney General Shapiro Announces Settlement with Temple University Over MBA Ranking Misrepresentation

December 12, 2019 | Topic: Consumers

$250K to fund scholarships for Fox Business School Students

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced a settlement with Temple University regarding false reporting by its Fox Business School to rankings publications, including U.S. News, to garner a No. 1 ranking for its online MBA program. The agreement includes $250,000 in new scholarships for students.

The false reporting, which was done intentionally and knowingly to boost the school’s rankings, elevated Fox Business School as the nation’s top Online MBA program for several consecutive years. The school used this ranking to attract prospective student applicants.

“This behavior mislead students, alumni, employers and the public about the quality and value of these Temple programs. Temple University has accepted responsibility for its role in this conduct and has been proactive and cooperative in addressing it,” Attorney General Shapiro said of the more than one-year investigation. “Importantly, Temple University has agreed to terms that will ensure students and their families are making informed choices moving forward. It’s critical that students and alumni alike have confidence in the value of their degree or certification from Temple University or any other institution.”

The settlement, in the form of an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, sets forth a number of instances in which Fox misrepresented the school’s data. Temple cooperated with the investigation.

As part of the settlement, Temple will establish and fund $250,000 in scholarships for Fox Business School students over the next decade, at $25,000 per year. The scholarships will begin in 2020.

Along with the substantial student aid provided for in the settlement, Temple has also agreed to institute various policies, procedures, and trainings to ensure such misconduct never happens again.

Under the terms of the settlement, Temple is required, among other things, to:

  • Reform its data aggregation, collection, inspection, verification, and submission practices. Temple must standardize the rankings data procedures for each school, college, and degree/certification program within its university and shall not submit any data unless it has been processed in full accordance with those procedures.
  • Provide consumers with accurate information about the Fox School’s rankings history. If any prospective applicant or enrolled student requests any information about the rankings status and/or history of the affected Fox programs, Temple has an affirmative duty to provide the requestor with an information sheet in the form of a FAQ detailing Temple’s misconduct and the remedial measures taken to correct it.
  • Maintain proper oversight and training of its employees. Temple is required to implement mandatory annual training in data integrity and ethical standards for all Fox Business School employees involved in the aggregation, collection, inspection, verification, and submission of data to rankings organizations. The university must also maintain an anonymous hotline for reporting the suspected falsification of student data.
  • Perform annual compliance assessments. Temple must perform annual assessments to ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement, and these assessments must be submitted to the commonwealth within 30 days of their completion.

The settlement was negotiated by Assistant Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection John Abel, and Deputy Attorney General James Wise. The AVC will be filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia.

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