UC Appeals Court's Decision
UC to appeal judge’s order to repay $33.8 million to students for unjust fees
March 16, 2006 8:32 PM
The University of California (UC) filed a notice of appeal after a San Francisco Superior Court ruled the system must refund $33.8 million in student fees improperly collected from UC Berkeley professional school students.
UC announced the notice of appeal on March 16 after losing a case filed by Mo Kashmiri, a UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law alumnus, and seven other UC students. The students filed the suit on accusations that UC raised and collected student fees after promising the fees would remain stable for the length of time a student was enrolled in professional school.
If the March 6 ruling by San Francisco Superior Court Judge James L. Warren is upheld by the Court of Appeals, about 9,500 students that attended UC Berkeley’s pharmacy, dental, law, veterinary and other professional schools will receive some reimbursement for fees they paid. About 1,100 of these students are still currently enrolled in the school, according to Ricardo Vazquez, UC Office of the President spokesman.
Judge Warren ruled, “A reasonable person would be entitled to rely on the university’s representation that the professional-degree fee would remain the same throughout his or her enrollment.”
In addition to professional-school students, 47,000 UC students will also be awarded funds for alleged improper raises in educational fees. These students were sent a bill for one amount, and later were sent another bill saying they owed a higher amount.
“It is like buying something at the store for one price and then receiving a bill in the mail saying you owe $50 more,” Jonathan Weissglass, a San Francisco attorney representing the students, said.
The plaintiffs claimed university catalogues and brochures explicitly said that fee hikes would only apply to new students. Weissglass said that in addition to UC publications, it was also stated on the Office of the President’s website as well as mentioned in an official budget for the UC that fees would not increase. Fees were then raised for professional schools system-wide.
UC claims they printed in numerous student publications that fees could go up at any time and that students were given adequate notice of fee increases, according to Vazquez.
“The state budget crises at the time justified the fee increases,” Vazquez said. “Over the past four years the budget crisis has forced UC to make difficult budget cuts over a short period of time.”
According to Weissglass, some students could receive up to five-figure reimbursements. During the past four years the UC Board of Regents has raised the tuition by about double. Boalt Hall School of Law has raised fees by $9,200 from what it was during the 2002-2003 school year.
Weissglass, who will continue to represent the students in the Court of Appeals, said it will be very unusual if the case is settled in less than a year. If the Court of Appeals rules in favor of UC, the case could conceivably go on to California Supreme Court before resolution is achieved.
According to Ravi Poorsina, UC spokesperson, current and future professional school students might carry the burden of replacing the money needed to repay students if the case is upheld. The university will have to either raise student fees or cut funding within the program to cover the millions of dollars lost to repayment.
Vasquez said UC was not surprised by the verdict. However, no fees will be refunded to students until the case wins in a Court of Appeals.
“The University is looking forward to having the Court of Appeals take a fresh look at the case,” Vasquez said.
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University