Higher Education

USC graduates sue over online social work program, alleging false advertising

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Dive Temporary:

  • Graduates of the College of Southern California’s on-line grasp’s diploma in social work filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday, alleging the establishment misrepresented this system as on par with an on-campus model.
  • They allege the college introduced the web program as “precisely the identical” because the in-person program, although the web model was outsourced totally to 2U, a for-profit training expertise firm. Each applications charged the identical tuition and costs — in extra of $100,000.
  • The lawsuit, filed within the Los Angeles County Superior Court docket, accuses USC of misrepresentation, false promoting, and different unlawful recruitment practices. The plaintiffs are looking for to be refunded for the quantity they are saying USC overcharged them and to cease the college repeating its alleged unhealthy behaviors, in response to one of many legislation corporations representing the plaintiffs.

Dive Perception:

Since USC partnered with 2U, enrollment within the college’s social work grasp’s program grew from 300 college students to over 3,000 college students, in response to the lawsuit, which has but to be licensed as a category motion. On-line progress nearly totally drove the rise.

However this system has been below intense scrutiny since a 2021 investigation by The Wall Street Journal discovered it left graduates with one of many worst debt-to-earnings ratios within the nation.

The net grasp’s diploma’s instructors, content material, curriculum, advising and medical placements had been all inferior to the choices on the in-person program and had been managed by 2U, not the College of Southern California, in response to the criticism.

The lawsuit additionally alleges USC, by 2U workers, focused college students of coloration and veterans with aggressive and predatory ways to persuade them to enroll within the on-line program. Recruiters used usc.edu emails when speaking with potential college students, regardless of working for 2U, not the college, the lawsuit stated.

“The truth that the MSW program was used as a moneymaker and to deceive folks like myself and the communities that I come from isn’t okay, and one thing must be carried out as a result of folks proceed to be recruited,” Stephanie Luna, a plaintiff within the lawsuit and a Mexican-American school scholar, stated in an announcement.

The Undertaking on Predatory Scholar Lending, which focuses on claims involving former college students of for-profit schools, is representing the plaintiffs. Its president and director, Eileen Connor, described the college’s on-line social work program as “an costly diploma mill.”

“USC used its model to intentionally deceive unsuspecting college students to create a ‘money cow’ by its inferior on-line MSW program at college students’ expense,” Connor stated in an announcement. 

USC stated Thursday it has not been served with the lawsuit but and can evaluation it intimately at the moment.

This is not the one class-action lawsuit USC is presently going through.

In December, a separate group of former college students sued the establishment and 2U, alleging they artificially inflated the rankings of USC’s on-line education schemes to spice up enrollment.

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