LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The online learning experience University of Kentucky students received during the last two months of the spring semester deprived them of some of the basic elements of college life and they should be refunded part of their money, according to a lawsuit filed this week in Fayette County Circuit Court.
The online classes were not the same as the classroom experience with access to other students, professors and facilities for which the student paid tuition, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, which first reported the lawsuit.
“To deprive the students of that is certainly a reduction in value to the students,” said attorney Andre Regard, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of student Peter Regard, according to the newspaper.
In mid-March, UK and other universities in the state switched to online teaching. The move initially was to be temporary but as the coronavirus outbreak worsened, the online teaching was extended, eventually through the entire semester.
The vast majority of students were asked to leave campus and return home to continue their studies.
The lawsuit seeks partial refunds for tuition and mandatory fees, according to the newspaper, which said those fees usually cover class supplies, labs, gyms and other facilities, which were closed once the coronavirus shutdown took hold.
UK spokesperson Jay Blanton told the newspaper the university had not yet been served with the lawsuit but noted students continued to receive instruction online so the university did not refund tuition or mandatory fees.
Mandatory fees “support critical facilities and services that students have asked to support over the years and that remained available to them, such as mental health and wellness counseling,” Blanton told the newspaper. “UK will vigorously defend its position in this matter.”
The lawsuit is the first against a state university but a number of others have been filed against universities and colleges in other states, the newspaper reported.