Students at more than 25 U.S. universities are filing lawsuits against their schools demanding partial refunds on tuition and campus fees, claiming they are not receiving the “caliber of education they were promised.” Schools scrambled to create as the coronavirus forced campuses across the nation to close last month. The suits say students should pay lower rates for the portion of the term that was offered online, arguing that the quality of instruction is far below the classroom experience.
However students are learning from the same professors who teach on campus, officials have said, and they’re still earning credits toward their degrees. Schools insist that after being forced to close by their states, they’re still offering students a quality education. However in one example of the complaint being filed, one student’s lawsuit against the University of California, Berkeley, stated that some professors are simply uploading assignments, with no video instruction at all. A case against Vanderbilt University says class discussion has been stymied and the “quality and academic rigor of courses has significantly decreased.” And in a case against Purdue University, a senior engineering student said the closure has prevented him from finishing his senior project, building an airplane. “No online course can simulate the applicable, real-world experience” he hoped to gain from the project, the complaint says.
Class-action lawsuits demanding tuition refunds have been filed against at least 26 colleges, targeting prestigious private universities, including Brown, Columbia and Cornell, along with big public schools, including Michigan State, Purdue and the University of Colorado, Boulder. Along with tuition, the cases also seek refunds for fees that students paid to access gyms, libraries, labs and other buildings that are now closed. All told, the complaints seek refunds that could add up to several thousand dollars per student at some schools.
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