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Temple announced its Fox School of Business knowingly falsified data about its online MBA program in 2018.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Temple University will pay a $700,000 settlement to the U.S. Department of Education for misreporting its business school's data and falsely boosting its place in the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings. 

The settlement follows the 2018 scandal, when Temple announced its Fox School of Business knowingly falsified data about its online MBA program and ousted its dean, who later filed a $25 million defamation suit against the university. 

“We know many students rely on rankings to make decisions, and in this case students were presented deliberately falsified information,” U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. 

As a result of the falsified data, the Fox School’s online MBA program was ranked No. 1 for four years, the Inquirer reported. 

“Consumers rely significantly on U.S. News and World Report and other third-party educational program quality rankings in choosing among educational institutions and providers,” read the Dec. 4 statement.

Temple estimated that its entire cost to take care of the scandal is $17 million, according to the Inquirer, which includes settlement payments and more than two years of remedial measures, including additional staffing and professional fees. Under the settlement terms, however, Temple does not admit wrongdoing or liability, the Inquirer reported.

Temple University spokesman Ray Betzner told NBCPhiladelphia that since the scandal, the university has taken “broad-sweeping corrective measures” to avoid misreporting data. These measures include establishing an internal Data Verification Unit to oversee the university’s data submissions and having a third-party auditor for future data entries. 

In December 2018, the university announced it would pay $4 million to settle a separate class-action lawsuit filed by former students of its online MBA program who claimed the false data reporting scandal devalued their degrees. Temple also paid approximately $1.5 million to impacted students in other Fox Business School programs, the Inquirer reported. As part of this settlement, Temple additionally agreed to award $250,000 in scholarships to students enrolled in its business school programs affected by the scandal.