May 29, 2020 – University of Miami Hit with at Least Third Suit Seeking Tuition, Fee Refunds
Yet another lawsuit argues the University of Miami should be on the hook for refunds given that students were forced into an online learning environment worth “far less” than what was paid in tuition and fees for the Spring 2020 semester ultimately curtailed by the COVID-19 crisis.
Despite enrolling in and paying for a comprehensive, in-person academic experience, Miami students have instead been offered a much more limited setting facilitated by Google and Zoom and void of face-to-face interaction, the proposed class action says. Though some institutions have promised appropriate and/or proportional refunds, the University of Miami, the suit alleges, has opted not to do so.
As the lawsuit tells it, the university’s refusal to issue refunds for an overall lesser academic experience comes despite its president’s assurance to Miami’sstudent newspaperthat “any online format in the fall would be a much higher quality than the emergency online instruction given this semester.”
Update – University of Miami Facing Another Suit Seeking Tuition Refunds
The University of Miami has been hit with another proposed class action lawsuit that argues the school should issue tuition and fee refunds for the Spring 2020 semester in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to the suit, the university has not held in-person classes since March 17, the day the institution announced its shift to online-only instruction for the duration of the semester. The lawsuit asserts that as a result of the university’s campus closure, the school has failed to provide the educational services, facility access and opportunities for which students have already paid. From the case:
“The online learning options being offered to University of Miami students are subpar in practically every aspect, from the lack of facilities, materials, and access to faculty. Students have been deprived of the opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback, and critique.The remote learning options are in no way the equivalent of the in-person education that Plaintiff and the putative class members contracted and paid for.”
The University of Miami is the latest academic institution to face a proposed class action filed by a student looking to recover tuition, fees and other costs for the coronavirus-shortened Spring 2020 semester. The 10-page case alleges the university has failed to refund any portion of students’ tuition payments, and that any such refund remitted to date has been inadequate.
Echoing a case filed last week against Arizona’s Board of Regents, the lawsuit claims University of Miami students should be refunded all fees and costs related to suspended in-person on-campus activities that were wiped out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff argues that Miami students choose to attend the school based in part on the institution’s marketing of its on-campus experience, as well as the promise of an in-person, hands-on learning curriculum.
The suit argues that while the University of Miami continues to offer some level of academic coursework online, the plaintiff and proposed class members—students who enrolled at the school and paid tuition and fees for the Spring 2020 semester—have been and will continue to be deprived of the benefits of on-campus learning for which they’ve paid considerable amounts of money. More thoroughly, students’ tuition payments are meant to cover everything from face-to-face interactions with professors and peers, access to computer labs and other facilities and student life events to networking and mentorship opportunities, all of which have been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, the case argues.
Moreover, the plaintiff alleges in the suit that the value of any degrees earned by proposed class members on the basis of online pass/fail classes, as opposed to the classroom experience initially promised by the University of Miami, “will be diminished.”
Asserting that a student’s admission to the school and payment of tuition and fees amounts to a binding contract with the university, the lawsuit claims the defendant has failed to hold up its end of the deal by failing to provide “experience and services” to which proposed class members were promised and for which they have already paid.
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