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The registrar at a public college in the US claims that a lecture course is "substantially equivalent" to a course that was to be held in a lab to teach lab skills. They also claim that being a public institution makes it exempt to state consumer law and 34 CFR § 668.71-75.

Student me wonders if the registrar is mistaken. The change in venue was not announced until the first day of class.

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A state institution is subject to 34 CFR § 668.71-75. State consumer-protection laws probably do not apply, but there are 50 states so it depends. Here are the laws for Washington. State universities have not yet found to be "businesses" in WA, so it is unlikely that those laws apply to university conduct. Whether or not a certain practice is legally actionable depends on what the action is: there is no misrepresentation, given what you describe, just consumer dissatisfaction.

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  • Yeah I can't imagine a state passing laws that might restrict a state institution. Also, legal action against a big school would be pointless - if I had that kind of money I wouldn't be interested in a degree. But if I take my complaint further up the food chain it'd be nice to know if I'm in the right. The federal CFR part seems specific about the availability of facilities and how the course is taught. But I can't see how it would be enforced.
    – ElHusky
    Dec 17 '20 at 18:41
  • Importantly, the remedies of 34 CFR § 669.71-.75 are limited to curtailing benefits or participation in federal grant programs if the U.S. Department of Education in its discretion chooses to do so. It does not authorize a private cause of action or civil liability of a public college or university.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 17 '20 at 19:13

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