This week there is an interesting settlement between the Department of Education and Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management. Temple has long been accused of falsifying information to improve its ranking on the US news and the World Report. The USNWR rankings are now key to most schools’ admission, and Temple is accused of lying to the magazine and its applicants for years.
The DOE alleged that Temple’s Fox School of Business and Management submitted incorrect information between 2014 and 2018. Temple University agreed to pay $ 700,000 for the settlement but has not admitted guilt. However, the department stated:
“The Department believes that Temple’s Fox School knowingly, intentionally, and essentially misrepresented the nature of certain educational programs in order to increase enrollment, increase revenue, and harm competitors by being over the wrong rankings thousands of times US News and World Report has advertised online portals, social media, fully boxed buses and newsstands, freeway billboards, and advertisements at airport terminals, on trains, at train stations, in magazines, in newspapers, and on television and radio. “
The settlement follows another more costly settlement that followed a lawsuit brought by Kyle Smith, who was sued after he was accepted into the Fox School of Business’ online MBA program. Temple University agreed to pay more than $ 5 million for “fraudulent and misleading business practices” as part of the settlement.
Scientists often criticize the USNWR ranking. I am not one of those critics. While I often disagree with some of the rankings, they are generally accurate and give applicants information that was simply not available when I applied to college and law school. What I find uncomfortable is the annual manipulation of the criteria to force changes in the ranking every year. The rankings hardly sell without dramatic drops and increase every year. Often times, this seems to be accomplished by making sudden changes to the criteria or weighing the criteria up. Still, the rankings create a degree of transparency and accountability for universities and colleges.
Temple has just put the aspect of accountability in real and costly terms.