Temple University agreed to pay $700,000 to the United States Department of Education to settle claims that the Fox School of Business misreported data to boost its position in U.S. News and World Report’s annual college ranking list from 2014 to 2018, according to a press release from the department today.
Under the terms of the settlement, Temple will not have to admit liability or wrongdoing for the scandal, according to the press release.
“We know many students rely on rankings to make decisions, and in this case students were presented deliberately falsified information by Temple’s Fox School,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in the press release.
U.S. News and World Report ranked Fox as offering the top online MBA program in the nation for four consecutive years but stripped the school of its 2018 ranking after it falsely reported all new students in the program had provided their Graduate Management Admission Test scores in their applications, The Temple News reported.
In July 2018, an independent report by Jones Day found that, since 2014, Fox administrators had knowingly exaggerated data metrics for the number of students in its Online MBA program who provided graduate standardized test scores, the undergraduate GPA of students, its number of offers to applicants and student debt, The Temple News reported.
The false reports resulted in years of investigations from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Department of Education as well as expensive legal battles, like lawsuits from the ousted former Fox dean Moshe Porat and a separate group of more than 30 Fox MBA students, The Temple News reported.
Temple has spent more than $17 million on legal fees and other efforts to rectify the scandal, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
These efforts include creating an internal unit to verify the accuracy of Temple’s data submissions, establishing hotlines for people to report suspected malfeasance, hiring an auditor to review the university’s data submissions, expanding training and increasing available scholarships for students enrolling in the affected Fox programs, wrote Ray Betzner, a spokesperson for the university, in an email to The Temple News.
“We are grateful to have reached the conclusion of this matter with the U.S. Department of Education,” Betzner wrote. “Throughout the process, Temple was entirely transparent and took swift actions to protect the interests of our students, donors and the university.”