A recent lawsuit filed against the University of Southern California (USC) and 2U, Inc., a publicly traded company, alleges that the institution of higher education provided limited information and statistics to U.S. News & World Report. In order to draw in prospective students to online programs, USC presented favorable rankings, which were only accurate for one in-person program. According to the lawsuit, USC has established a history of supplying misleading information to U.S. News & World Report and allegedly withheld data that might have influenced a lesser rank. USC is placing blame on the dean of the Rossier School of Education.
While the National Student Legal Defense Network and Tycko & Zavareei LLP filed the lawsuit, these organizations are acting on behalf of three named students, as well as additional students. The claim focuses on the alleged defrauding of students and the university’s support of reports that only reflected the statistics of in-person learning. The institution provided advertising to target students for their online programs, however, the data used to lure them did not incorporate the online sector of the university. The lawsuit claims that the dean warned the school about including the doctoral online education program and the potential plummet in U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Despite USC’s attempts to assign responsibility for the misinformation, a second, exclusive party is also named as defendant in the case. The third party business, 2U, Inc., serves as an online program management company and has been accused of recruiting students and accepting a sizable profit of tuition percentages. According to the lawsuit, while USC fabricated their numbers, 2U, Inc. used the data to deceptively attract students to an online program that failed to match the inflated statistics. During the college enrollment process, students rely on public information and rankings, which allow them to compare program performance with their personal education expectations. False data may compromise their ability to develop an informed decision.