Students enrolled at Drexel University and the University of Miami have sued their institutions in an attempt to recoup tuition fees, claiming the in-person instruction for which they paid cannot be provided amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the new coronavirus began to rip through the US more than a month ago, universities have transitioned to online provision in order to comply with nationwide social distancing measures designed to curb the spread of Covid-19.
But students who have paid for face-to-face interaction with professors and peers, in addition to extra-curricular activities and on-campus facilities, are no longer able to access such benefits. This is a breach of contract between universities and students, the lawsuits allege, according to EducationDive.
Fresh legal action against the US universities follows a string of other lawsuits, according to the publication, in which students have accused colleges of withholding refunds for housing, meals and other expenses.
But the students’ legal argument is weak, higher education legal expert Michael Olivas reportedly told EducationDive, because they are asserting a level of educational malpractice that isn’t occurring.
While institutions have made some "obvious compromises" to move instruction and other services online as quickly as possible, "there have been good-faith efforts with transformative investments in distance education," Olivas said, adding that tuition fees do not entitle students to a fancy classroom or in-person instruction.