A Rutgers MBA student on Tuesday filed a federal class action lawsuit against the university, accusing his business school of violating New Jersey’s consumer fraud law by allegedly creating bogus jobs for graduates simply to improve its ranking in the US News & World Report program.
The complaint comes days after a similar lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Rutgers administrator, who accused the university of fraudulently seeking to improve its national rankings by creating these bogus posts to show off success. of its business school graduates in search of employment.
In the new filing, Lorenzo Budet, 33, of Atlantic City, accused Rutgers of intentionally reporting false data and making misleading claims in its marketing materials, falsely claiming unemployed college students were gainfully employed. in full-time MBA-level jobs.
“The fraud worked,” Budet’s attorneys said in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. “In 2018, the very first year of the program, Rutgers was suddenly propelled into, among other things, the premier business school in the Northeast region of the United States. But Rutgers Business School didn’t deserve its high ranking, having earned that ranking and others by deception.
The lawsuit claimed that due to Rutgers’ fraudulent and deceptive business practices, its students paid higher tuition, but received an education less than they expected given the erroneous gradings.
“This was a massive fraud against prospective Rutgers students,” the lawsuit charged, estimating that at least 100 other people could become parties to the lawsuit. “For (Rutgers), making sure every graduate student gets a meaningful education doesn’t matter. Their focal point is “rankings,” “employment rate,” and other crucial stats that entice students to flock to Rutgers on the grounds that it will or could land them a highly coveted, high-paying job. »
In a statement, Rutgers said that due to university policy, it was unable to comment on details of the litigation.
“We will say unequivocally, however, that we take seriously our obligation to accurately report data and other information to ranking and reporting agencies. We are confident in our process and procedures to accurately report to ranking publications,” the university said.
Officials said the Rutgers Business School team followed guidelines set by standards agencies, maintained control of their statistics, and methodically communicated information by submitting employment statistics to ranking agencies.
“Rutgers Business School is confident that it complies with MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance guidelines and similarly follows the National Undergraduate Business Symposium and National Association of Colleges and Employers guidelines,” said the university.
In a separate lawsuit filed Friday by the same law firm, Deidre White, the business school’s human resources manager, alleged that the program used an outside temp agency to hire MBA students who had struggling to find a job. He accused Rutgers of placing them in fictitious positions at the university itself — for no other reason than to make it seem like more graduates were getting full-time jobs after graduating.
In one instance, the White lawsuit referred to emails about interviews for two students, who were described by an administrator as “significantly overqualified” for the position offered.
Colleges nationwide have come under pressure to improve their rankings by US News and other ranking publications, which administrators say is very important for parents and students.
Earlier this year, a former dean of Temple University’s business school was sentenced to prison after being convicted in 2021 of using fake numbers in a complex fraud operation aimed at improving the school’s national ranking and increase its income.
Moshe Porat, 74, was convicted of federal wire fraud and conspiracy charges for his role in the cheating scandal that sought to raise the university’s Fox School of Business ranking in Philadelphia. The school’s online MBA program had been rated the best in the nation by US News & World Report over the years it provided falsified data.
In his lawsuit, Budet — who lawyers say is enrolled as a graduate student at Rutgers in its supply chain management MBA program — claimed that by bolstering his employment data , Rutgers Business School “made it seem like employment after graduation was virtually guaranteed.”
Instead of telling prospective and current students the truth, his lawsuit alleged that Rutgers continued to claim that nearly all of its graduates were gainfully employed.
“Rutgers Business School reportedly reported misleading data to US News and World Report, among other education ranking bodies, to improve its rankings. But just as data falsification is a violation of Rutgers’ own Academic Integrity Policy, Rutgers must be held accountable here under the law,” Budet’s attorney Charles Kocher of McOmber McOmber & Luber told Marlton.
Kocher said the class action seeks to recover tuition paid by Budet and other students who would be part of the proposed class action lawsuit for Rutgers’ MBA and other master’s programs as a result of what he said. called “tainted rankings”.
Rutgers, in its statement, said that as a public business school, a core tenet of its mission is to educate and prepare students for successful careers.
“Rutgers Business School invests heavily in the career resources available to our students. Through our dedicated career management office, we prepare students for career opportunities aligned with their goals, knowledge and skills,” officials said. “We consider this to be one of our key differentiators as a business school. Our faculty, our curriculum and curriculum innovations, our case competitions, alumni mentorship, our partnerships with companies and our experiential learning projects all contribute to an exceptional business school experience for our students.
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