Great ResignationDiversity and InclusionCompensationCEO DailyCFO DailyModern Board

Trump University Students Say They Were Pressured Into Writing Good Reviews

March 11, 2016, 6:54 PM UTC

One of Donald Trump’s main arguments about the legitimacy of Trump University is being seriously challenged.

Former students of the Republican presidential candidate’s school say they were pressured into giving it high ratings, according to the New York Times, which calls out Trump’s claim that his university has a 98% approval rating from pupils.

In the Times report, supplemented by court documents, one student, Robert Tufenkian, recalled how his instructor refused to leave the room and watched as he filled out his evaluation. Another student, Robert Guillo, reported that his teacher had begged for a high score, saying “Mr. Trump might not invite me back to teach again.” Student John Brown recalled attempting to leave a poor score for his instructor but then receiving three phone calls from school employees, asking him to reconsider. He did.

The news comes as Trump University, a non-accredited online education enterprise now known as Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, faces several lawsuits alleging the company defrauded students, who paid as much $35,000 in yearly tuition, with false claims of the program’s worth. The complaints include suits from the New York Attorney General and a class action lawsuit in San Diego. Trump University and Entrepreneur Initiative have counted around 7,000 students over the years.


For other presidential candidates hoping to take Trump down, the controversy has become a mainstay of their artillery—and it’s becoming a major shadow over Trump’s campaign.

From his side of the court, Trump has regularly claimed his university garnered a 98% approval from students, and he’s argued that the dissatisfied pupils were seeking a potential windfall from the lawsuit after having reaped the course’s benefits.

Students at the university were asked to rate teachers and the class on a scale of one to five, though unlike most universities, where evaluations are anonymously completed, Trump University never explicitly offered the option on anonymity, according to court documents viewed by the Times. Employees also told students they had to fill surveys out in order to obtain a graduation certificate.

Fortune has contacted a representative from Trump’s campaign and will update this story if we get a response.