UK: Int’l Students Mobilize to Clear Their Names in English Test Scandal After 10 Years

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News International Studies by Erudera News Feb 14, 2024

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Ten years after being accused of cheating on English language tests in the United Kingdom, international students are planning to mobilize for new efforts and prove their innocence.

Students believe they have been unjustly implicated in a gross miscarriage of justice and want to clear their names, according to a report by the Guardian.

They have recently provided new evidence in the court challenging the Home Office’s claims that 35,000 international students cheated in English tests following a BBC investigation released in 2014.

Students have expressed their frustration at being unfairly accused of cheating on those tests and, for several years, have been trying to prove the claims were not accurate.

“I was a young chap of 18 when I left home – it was a dream – and then I came back with an accusation from the UK government that I’m a cheat, a con artist, that I submitted fake documents. None of my family believed me except my mum,” Muhammad Ali, 35, who was pursuing an undergraduate degree in tourism management in Scotland in 2014, told the Guardian.

The BBC investigation revealed widespread cheating in English tests, which international students were required to pass as a precondition for their visa renewal. Home Office-approved test centers monitored the testing.

After the BBC documentary, Theresa May, who back then served as home secretary, described the findings as “very shocking” and ordered the US-based testing and assessment provider, Educational Testing Service (ETS), to look into the matter.

The organization came to the conclusion that a total of 97 percent of English tests completed in the United Kingdom between 2011 and 214 were somewhat suspicious. Following the conclusion, the Home Office suddenly canceled the visas of 35,000 students, forcing them to leave the country.

Among the students accused of cheating, many had already completed studies in English language institutions or even held a degree in English literature.

Immigration authorities raided the houses of students early in the morning, which resulted in the deportation of nearly 2,500 students. An additional 7,200 voluntarily left the country following threats of arrest and detention if they chose to do the opposite.

Many others were forced to quit their degree courses, resulting in financial losses of thousands of pounds in fees. However, over 3,600 students did not give up and won appeals against the Home Office.

In 2020, over 200 international students wrote to former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek justice, saying they were falsely accused of cheating.

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