Int’l Students Accused of Cheating on English Tests Launch Legal Action Against UK Home Office

United Kingdom Europe International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Feb 21, 2024

United Kingdom COVID-19

A group of international students whose visas were revoked ten years ago amid accusations they cheated on English language tests in the United Kingdom, are now seeking to clear their names. They have launched legal action against the Home Office, asking for compensation.

The issue follows a BBC Panorama documentary released in 2014 that revealed organized cheating on English language tests used for study visa purposes in the United Kingdom, Erudera.com reports.

Such claims led to the Home Office back then canceling the visas of about 35,000 international students, most of whom were forced to discontinue their programs, 2,500 students were deported, and 7,200 left the country after threats they would be arrested if they didn’t leave.

Besides financial compensation for being wrongly accused, students are also requiring compensation for being unjustly held in prison, damage to their mental health, and loss of money.

A group of 23 students who have won their immigration appeals after the Home Office revoked their visas due to cheating allegations are represented by the law firm Bindmans. According to a report by the Guardian, the firm is urging the department to treat it as a group case.

Alice Hardy, a partner at Bindmans, said that the Home Office has intentionally hidden the real accusation from them, denying them the chance to defend themselves and removing “their immigration status with no in-country right of appeal.”

“They lost everything as a result; homes, livelihoods, the right to work, study and pay rent. They suffered the shame and rejection of their families, relationship breakdowns, destitution, and the torment of seeing everything they had worked for taken away from them,” Hardy told the Guardian.

In 2014, a BBC Panorama investigation revealed widespread cheating in English language exams that students had to complete in order to renew their study visas in the UK.

The Home Office asked the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to investigate the case. It found that among 58,000 people who took the English for International Communication (Toeic) between 2011 and 2014, 58 percent had cheated, while 39 percent were asked to take the tests again as they appeared to be suspicious.

Since then, thousands of students have protested for many years, insisting they were unfairly accused of cheating.

Back then, it was evaluated that tests of 2,000 students were not questionable. ETS said these students did not cheat.

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