Students File Class Action over Allegedly Useless Education


Education Expert WitnessThis case involves a group of college students in Alabama who joined in a class action lawsuit against their university after claiming their education had  been fraudulent. The university, which promised its students a degree in massage therapy on the basis of submitted “life experience forms,” charged its attendees thousands of dollars for seminars that only promoted even more advanced seminars for a higher cost. Claiming that its education program was the only needed qualification a student would require to become a personal massage therapist, the university had touted their life experience program as groundbreaking. They also claimed that they offered each student a year-long massage therapy internship, in an attempt to integrate practical and theoretical learning. Yet these internships never materialized, and students found themselves paying for promotional seminars without receiving a degree. With the validity of the university’s education program thrown into question, an expert in trade degrees and educational policy was needed to testify in the case.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please explain your insights and experience in educational policy with relation to this case.

Expert Witness Response E-018323

Any degree curriculum should consist of both practical and theoretical material. Additionally, the curriculum should include plenty of case studies and problem scenarios that give students practical experience working with “real world” decisions – in this case, massage therapy.  At the university level, an apprenticeship or mentor ship would be very difficult to arrange for each student. I don’t know of any program that currently does this, although I know of one university which is currently discussing ways to develop a mentorship program of some kind. That said, because obtaining “real world” experience in any field is critical, most if not all similar programs strongly encourage and actively help students obtain internships.

Expert Witness Response E-018278

A typical university level undergraduate curriculum consists of at least 9 courses specific to the student’s major. At my home university, these courses include 4 or 5 industry-specific courses plus 3 or 4 supporting courses in finance, risk management, and economics. Of course, each discipline will vary when it comes to the specificity of an additional master’s degree. At other universities with more specialized degree programs, the number of specific real estate courses could be higher. At the university where I work, we do not require an internship or mentorship as part of the program. However, we strongly encourage our students to participate in an internship and actively help students find internship opportunities.

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