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Graduate students at Drexel University, who were promised a trip to China as part of their training, sued the university and won after it refused to send them on the trip.

As part of an international seminar in the master's of business administration program, students were supposed to visit China last March to get real-world experience in international business.

The trip was canceled by Drexel officials, however, as a result of the U.S. Department of State's SARS-related ban on travel to China, in addition to the outbreak of war in Iraq.

The students contend that the 10- to 12-day trip was a significant selling point for the program and that it was one of the major reasons they decided to enroll. They took that contention to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where the judge agreed that the university failed to uphold its end of the bargain.

There has yet to be a damage hearing, in which a dollar amount would be decided.

Alan Bredt, attorney for the students, highlighted the fact that the Drexel MBA program is in competition with many other fine business schools in the area.

The opportunity to make business contacts in China, the "biggest potential market in the world," would have made his clients "much more marketable," Bredt said.

The students, who have since graduated, were led in the lawsuit by classmate Andrew Green.

Green could not be reached for comment, but according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Green and several others asked the Drexel officials if they could proceed to China at their own risk. The request was denied.

Drexel spokesman Kevin Kaufman said that the students were instead offered several alternate destinations, all of which they rejected.

According to Kaufman, "It is the opinion of the university that the recent judgment in favor of the students in a trial court was erroneous."

"A return to court is a last resort, although we're confident that the trial court's decision will be reversed in the event that the case goes to appellate court," he added.

According to Bredt, the trip was part of the tuition payment that the students paid to Drexel.

The students would have been able to meet with Chinese government officials and businessmen in order to gain an understanding of how international business works, Bredt added.

According to Kaufman, the "university's intention has always been to balance its students' educational needs with the need to provide a safe learning environment."

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