Int’l Students Deported from UK a Decade Ago Seek PM’s Help to Prove Their Innocence

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

A group of international students, many from India, deported from the United Kingdom a decade ago after being accused of cheating in English language tests, have called on UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to help them clear their names.

As The Guardian reports, among the deported students was a 46-year-old woman who was separated from her family for more than a decade now and a man who also faced a lawsuit from the company that sponsored his arrival to the UK. Students submitted a petition to 10 Downing Street on Monday, March 20, reports.

According to the newspaper, these students have been living in uncertainty for ten years following a 2014 BBC Panorama documentary that reported that they allegedly cheated in English language tests at two of the UK’s testing centers, which led to the revocation of their visas.

The UK government charged the Educational Testing Service (ETS) which ran the test at 96 centers, to investigate the cheating allegations. The investigation led to the Home Office quickly ceasing the contracts of tens of thousands of students.

Data indicate that 97 percent of the total English language tests known as TOEIC were considered suspicious. More than 33,000 international students were told their English tests were invalid, while 22,476 were questionable.

Students are now seeking PM’s help for the following:

  • A free and simple mechanism that allows students to apply for reconsideration of their case
  • The immigration record of each student to be cleared of cheating
  • Facilitate their return to the United Kingdom to study or support those on entrepreneur visas to find employment or recommence their businesses by clearing cheating allegations.

After being expelled from universities, international students were denied the right to remain in the country, work, and in some cases, even start petitions.

According to the Migrant Voice, a migrant-led organization based in the UK, students who chose to stay in the UK and prove their innocence faced homelessness and high legal fees. They struggled with stress and missed special occasions with their family members.

“It is entirely unacceptable that, despite now recognising that hundreds of people maintain their innocence the Home Office has not acted to put right the wrongs caused by its actions,” a report by the Public Accounts Committee published in 2019 said, concluding that the Home Office judged quickly on the revocation of international students’ visas.

Higher Education Student Statistics show that 679,970 international students were studying at UK universities in the 2021/22 academic year, with Chinese and Indians accounting for the largest groups of students, 151,690 and 126,535, respectively.

Photo: PM Rishi Sunak's official Twitter account

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