Temple Will Pay $5.5M to Settle Suits Over False Rankings Data

University admitted that its business school submitting fabricated statistics for years to U.S. News. Students filed a class action.

January 7, 2019
 

Temple University announced in December that it has settled class action lawsuits from students who were outraged to learn that the business school's top ranking for its online program was based on false data.

The university will pay $4 million to those who are or were students in the online M.B.A. program and another $1,475,000 to settle claims of students in other M.B.A. programs and several other master's programs and one online bachelor's program in the business school.

"The settlement does not constitute an admission of liability," said a statement from the university. "While the university believes that it could have ultimately prevailed in the litigation, Temple nonetheless chose settlement in the best interests of the university and its students."

Temple also agreed, as part of the settlement, to create a $5,000 scholarship "for a student with a demonstrated interest in the study of ethics in business who is enrolled in any of the programs that are part of the settlement."

U.S. News & World Report periodically announces that various colleges submitted incorrect data for rankings, and when those errors are material, U.S. News revokes the rankings for that year. But in many of these cases, the errors may not have been intentional or resulted in a top ranking.

In the scandal over the Temple business school, however, the university admitted to submitting false data over several years, and those data led to the online M.B.A. program being ranked above all others for several years.

Among the findings released by the university in July of its investigation of the falsehoods:

  • For ranking years 2015 through 2018 (typically with data coming from the prior year's new students), Temple's reports that all admitted applicants had taken the Graduate Management Admission Test were wrong. The actual number was "significantly lower" than the 100 percent figure given. U.S. News asks business schools to report both GMAT and Graduate Record Exam scores (as some business school applicants take the GRE). Temple just converted GRE scores (which were supposed to be provided with breakdowns on various parts of the exam) into GMAT scores, and said that no applicants took the GRE. The Jones Day report indicated that, at one point, U.S. News raised questions about the 100 percent test-taking applicants, but did not pursue the issue when Temple provided more false information.
  • For ranking years 2015 through 2018, undergraduate grade point averages were "inflated through use of various methods." One of those methods was to take GPAs listed as a 1/100 value and improving them to the "next highest" 1/10 value. As an example, the Jones Day report said that this would mean reporting 3.22 as 3.3. U.S. News asked business schools to report mean GPAs, but Temple sometimes gave the mean and sometimes reported the median (using the inflated statistics either way).
  • For ranking years 2017 and 2018, Temple underreported the number of admissions offers, implying that the program was more selective than was the case.
  • For ranking years 2016 through 2018, Temple provided false information about debt. U.S. News asks business schools for the average debt among graduates who borrow. Temple reported instead the average for all graduates, thus lowering the average debt level.
  • For ranking years 2016 through 2018, Temple counted both faculty members and "academic coaches" in a formula to determine student-faculty ratio.

Later that month, the university admitted that it had submitted false data for other programs in its business school.

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