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Students attending Miami and Drexel universities are trying to take their respective institutions to court, arguing they should be reimbursed for costs including tuition after campuses closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a significant development in the tensions over how much students who had been studying on campuses should pay for a semester suddenly upended by social distancing and classes shifting to online or remote instruction. Many colleges and universities have been offering refunds of fees, room and board. But leaders have generally resisted tuition refunds, often arguing that they are still delivering the core educational product for which tuition pays.

The Miami and Drexel students filed class-action lawsuits Wednesday in federal Court in South Carolina, Law360 reported. They’re being represented by a law firm based in the same state, Anastopoulo Law Firm LLC.

Students allege breach of contract and unjust enrichment. They seek unspecified damages, fees and costs.

They argue the universities prevented students from receiving the benefits of learning in person when they temporarily closed campus. The institutions are “still offering some level of academic instruction via online classes,” but students are nonetheless being deprived certain benefits, they argued.

The students argue that they chose to attend particular institutions based on advertising promoting on-campus experiences. In addition to instruction, tuition covers other services like computer labs, libraries and networking opportunities, they argued.

“Moreover, the value of any degree issued on the basis of online or pass/fail classes will be diminished” student complaints said, according to Law 360.

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