The mandatory arbitration agreement meant that they were legally obligated to file their complaints with an arbitrator – a lawyer chosen and paid for by the UEI. There would be no chance of filing before the hearing, no discovery process that would allow their lawyers to detect wrongdoing and, in essence, no opportunity to appeal the arbitrator`s judgment.1 In order to conduct our research on restrictive provisions imposed on students, we had to collect copies of contracts signed by students when they enrolled in a university. Very quickly, our research has a catch. If we could find a registration contract used by an institution, we could make a decision from that document on the use of the four types of restrictive provisions. The problem was that in most traditional public and non-profit institutions, university officials had no idea what we meant when we asked for their «registration contract» or «registration contract.» While all the for-profit institutions in our sample used registration contracts, none of the public institutions did. (10 of the 34 non-profit organizations use registration contracts, but this probably exaggerates their frequency because these schools have been identified by online search for registration contracts.) More and more stories were appearing in the press due to the use of enrolment contracts by universities. These reports follow a rather familiar script in which an idealistic student in the role of David faces a corporate goliath from a school, but in most cases Goliath wins. By adding one or two sentences, a registration contract designed to protect the consumer becomes a license for dishonest or predatory behaviour. Jacob, for example, invested his time, money and energy in a university he believed would lead to a career in the technology industry.
Instead, according to investigative journalist Molly Hensley-Clancy, he found himself without the skills or the job – but with heavy debts. When he and other disillusioned comrades tried to partner to hold the school to account — a for-profit corporation called UEI College in Long Beach, California — they discovered that among the registration documents they signed, there was a provision that prohibited them from going to court. Instead, «Go-it-alone» clauses are usually contained in a compromise clause. As noted below, the Midwest Technical Institute includes in its registration agreement a section stating that any complainant cannot be part of a class action or assert consolidated rights with others. The Cortiva Institute simply notes that each problem is solved by individual and binding procedures, a clarification that, as mentioned above, can be redundant. In another case, Debbie Brenner and other former students of Lamson College in Peoria, Illinois, thought they had a slam-dunk case that the school had cheated on them. They went to court, but the judge launched the case because the registration contract the students signed when they first registered contained a «mandatory arbitration clause,» according to the New York Times.