Last week, the National Union of Students (NUS) released a report responding to the Home Office’s accusations of fraud in the English language tests, which the NUS believes has directly affected over 12,000 students.
The report was necessitated by, as NUS’s legal representatives Bindmans describes it:
the international student crisis that has been unfolding for the past year, following the broadcast of a Panorama programme in February 2014 which revealed fraud in the taking of English language tests for use with student visa applications.
In June 2014 the Home Office began taking action against universities and private colleges whose students it accused of participating in the fraud. To date more than 90 institutions have lost their licences to teach international students. The impact upon students at these institutions has been huge, as detailed in the NUS report.
Many of those accused of fraud were told to leave the UK with immediate effect and to pursue any appeal from their home countries. They were offered no opportunity to respond to the allegations before action commenced against them.
Following the accusations made in the Panorama programme, the Home Office commissioned the provider of the English test (Educational Testing Services, or ETS) to try to identify those who may have cheated. ETS used a computerised voice recognition test and produced a list of 29,000 people whom ETS considered had “definitely participated in the fraud”, and a further 19,000 whose tests showed some other irregularity. These irregularities include admin issues, or simply that the person had sat their test at a centre where fraud was believed to have occurred.
On behalf of NUS, Bindmans law firm instructed an independent forensic consultant who considered the steps taken by ETS to identify the students who had committed fraud. The report identifies several issues of concern which may have produced a significant number of false allegations.
It is hoped these resources may help individuals and institutions trying to challenge Home Office actions around fraud allegations.
The NUS is also currently conducting a survey on experiences of xenophobia. They want to hear the views of all students in higher and further education in the UK. You can take part in the survey here.
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