Home Office Approach to English Language Testing System Litigation
In May 2016, the Home Affairs Committee, the body responsible for examining the policy, administration and expenditure of the Home Office and its associated bodies, has launched an inquiry into the Home Office’s handling of the fraud allegations involving English-language tests and the English Language Testing System (ETS) that was part of student visa requirements at the time.
English Language Testing System ETS Litigation Review
Following the outcome of the Qadir case, wherein the Home Office conceded their appeal, the Chair of the Committee wrote to the Secretary of State for confirmation on its approach to and strategy regarding the ETS litigation and the status of the current appeals.
Mr Robert Goodwill MP, Minister for Immigration, confirmed in a written statement that the Home Office withdrew the case due to technical reasons as this case was “not the most suitable for presenting the full extent of the compelling evidence of the industrial scale of organised fraud in English Language Testing” and that the evidence available to the Secretary of State has been strengthened since the original appeal therefore there will be little point in continuing with the appeal.
He also confirmed that there are currently over 300 cases which relates to the fraud allegations involving ETS & the English language testing system, of which the Home Office expects to concede “just over a dozen” of cases. Those affected will be notified this month.
In the statement, Mr Goodwill reiterated that,
“As we have previously set out for the committee the investigation into the abuse of English language testing in 2014 revealed systemic cheating which was indicative of an extremely serious, large scale organised fraud and was a significant attempt to undermine immigration control. The Government took immediate robust action in this but at all times has been careful to ensure that this has been measured and proportionate.”
While no one will argue of the seriousness and the substantial fraudulent activities that has been uncovered, some will cast doubt on latter part of this particular statement given that thousands of students, whether or not they have taken an English test through ETS, have been severely negatively affected.
Background to the the ETS Scandal
In 2014, the BBC’s Panorama program uncovered a scandal in the English Language Tests that were being taken for the purpose of visas, immigration and other requirements. It was found out to be systematic in that a wide range of organisations connected to the provider (ETS) were assisting people to pass the tests, even without having to take the tests.
The Secretary of State then took swift action in removing ETS Global as a Test provider. ETS assisted the Home Office and provided them with a list of all people that were on their records as having taken a test whether suspected or not. Together, they began the process of rooting out those that were suspected of taking false tests. It transpires that some students were wrongly accused of taking part and many were refused and rejected from the UK.
The Home Office then proceeded to change the way that English Language tests were taken and secured the process.
Thousands of students have been dislodged due to many educational institution losing their Tier 4 licences, curtailing of their leave to remain, and altogether being removed or forced to leave their studies and the UK.
Students Removed From the UK Using Questionable Evidence
Since 2014, students have been removed from the country using questionable evidence put forward by the Secretary of State on unchallenged cases and on the initial appeal cases. Moreover, the Home Office are not prepared to compensate students whose life has been turned upside down by unsubstantiated fraud allegations of the Student Visa Requirements.
For now, the Home Affairs Committee continues their inquiry and may continue to accept written submissions regarding this matter.
If you have been affected by the ETS English Language Testing System fiasco, comment below. Also check out our articles on English Language Requirements for UK Immigration.