Radboud University is considering legal action against AthenaStudies

14 Mar 2023

After mounting allegations against the commercial summary and examination course provider AthenaStudies, Radboud University is considering legal action against the company. The statement follows reports of similar considerations by other Dutch universities.

Over the past few weeks, the Amsterdam-based company AthenaStudies has been in hot water: the commercial provider of extracurricular study materials is facing multiple allegations of improper advertising practices and the use of copyrighted lecture book material at different Dutch universities, including Radboud University. According to a written statement by university spokesperson Annet Les, Radboud University is now considering legal action against the company.

‘Employees of this company [AthenaStudies, ed.] appear to pose as students in app groups and thus indirectly advertise for commercial purposes,’ reads the statement. ‘Additionally, students can be misled because Athena makes use of the Radboud logo. The university considers taking legal action.’

The Radboud statement followed reports in Erasmus Magazine that Erasmus University Rotterdam was considering legal action against Athena. Additionally, both university newspapers UKrant in Groningen and Delta in Delft have reported allegations against Athena at their universities. According to Les, Radboud University is in contact with other Dutch universities that are also considering taking legal steps against the company.

Feigned conversations

As reported in an earlier Vox article, allegations against the company at Radboud include the making of WhatsApp groups by Athena that feature the Radboud logo, in which Athena ambassadors appear to have feigned conversations, indirectly promoting the company to students. One law student at Radboud reports that Athena has sent him an ‘order confirmation’ that turned out to be an advertisement by the company.

Furthermore, Athena summaries obtained by Vox appear to contain copyrighted lecture book material. When contacted by Vox, Statistics professor Jules Ellis stated that he had not been aware that pictures from his book had been used in an Athena summary. The summary in question continues to be sold by the company.

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