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Purdue Global Demands Students Waive Right to Sue

August 29, 2018
 
 

A liberal Washington think tank that used a public records request to pursue details about Purdue University Global has released details of a “policy guide” that reveal an unusual demand: the new public university forces students to arbitrate “all disputes, controversies, and claims” and to waive their right to a jury trial.

The guide also reveals that Purdue Global plans to ban class-action lawsuits and will apply forced arbitration even to potential fraud cases brought by students.

The details are laid out in documents obtained via a records request to the U.S. Department of Education by the Century Foundation, which said the requirements make Purdue University Global “perhaps the first and only public institution to strip students of their legal rights.”

The Century Foundation is well-known for challenging for-profit colleges' policies.

In a statement, Tim Doty, a Purdue spokesperson, said Purdue Global "does have an arbitration agreement that it inherited from Kaplan. Whether it continues to employ this policy is ultimately up to the Purdue Board of Trustees which has complete control over Purdue Global, and has the final say as to which policies it retains, and which it alters. The fact that the board has complete authority to operate the new university as it sees fit and to enact whatever policies it deems to be in the best interest of students is one that only the most unaware critics struggle to grasp."

Purdue, the public land-grant university based in Indiana, last year purchased the for-profit Kaplan University for $1. For-profit institutions for years have required students to sign arbitration clauses, but the agreements are virtually unheard-of at public universities.

Purdue Global, which operates as a so-called public benefit corporation, is also not subject to open-records laws.

The American Association of University Professors last week posted a link to four pages from a Purdue Global employee handbook detailing a nondisclosure agreement for employees. It requires academics to potentially waive their rights to course materials they create for the university’s learning management system and prohibits ex-employees from hiring former Purdue colleagues for a year -- or from bad-mouthing Purdue once they’re gone.

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