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English language testing providers pull out of Russia

English language testing providers have said they are pausing operations in Russia as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. One emphasised that the actions against Ukraine are “antithetical” to global learning and cultural exchange, and what international education stands for.

Testing operators say they will return to Russia "when the time is right". Photo: iStock

Password English Language Testing has "suspended sales in Russia and Belarus until further notice"

In a statement, ETS – which operates TOEFL, GRE and TOEIC tests – said “our hearts and thoughts are with the people of Ukraine as they fight for their freedom, their country and their lives”, and that its making a donation to UNICEF to support its work with affected children and families in Eastern Ukraine and neighbouring regions.

“ETS is suspending testing in Russia and Belarus,” the testing provider said.

IDP, which along with British Council and Cambridge Assessment English co-owns IELTS, said it has decided to pause IELTS testing in Russia in response to “the conflict in Ukraine and the suffering this has brought upon innocent people”.

“When the time is right, IDP will resume its work to support IELTS test takers in Russia”

“When the time is right, IDP will resume its work to support IELTS test takers in Russia who form part of our international education community,” it said.

“We can confirm that the IELTS partners are not accepting entries for IELTS tests in Russia,” an IELTS spokesperson told The PIE.

Password English Language Testing told The PIE that it has “suspended sales in Russia and Belarus until further notice”.

On March 5, Pearson said it would suspend the sale and delivery of its products and services in both Russia and Belarus. “We are committing to a £1m donation to charities that support humanitarian relief,” it also added.

Exam board Trinity College London has also condemned the “devastating” invasion. “At Trinity we have decided to suspend collaboration with Russian and Belarusian entities that have any connection to us while we await further developments,” its CEO Erez Tocker said on March 8.

“Russia is not a large market for iTEP and our in-country testing operations are paused there,” iTEP International president Jim Brosam II. told The PIE.

However, with the huge increase in remote, online testing, “national boundaries increasingly are disappearing”, he continued.

Language learning app Duolingo which offers the Duolingo English Test has said it has disabled all monetisation in Russia and Belarus, meaning it is not paying taxes to the Russian government, and is not selling customers a service that it may be unable to provide in the future.

“Duolingo is still operating as a completely free app in Russia and Belarus,” Duolingo’s CEO Luis von Ahn has said.

“We believe there is value in continuing to teach the English language for free in Russia, given the current information environment in the country.”

ETS added that it “strongly support the growing calls for the end to the invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine”.

“We remain firmly committed to supporting all learners on their education journeys and hope peace prevails as soon as possible,” it said.

iTEP’s partner in Ukraine – Risen Intl. Education – was able to successfully evacuate all their family and staff into Poland, Brosam noted.

“They brought with them across the border a number of international exchange students from China who are also now safely situated in Warsaw.

“Our first concern is always the safety and security of our students and staff members”

“The actual physical condition of the offices in Kiev is unknown at this point. The more important consideration is the many professional colleagues and students who remain trapped in the city under life-threatening conditions. Our thoughts are with them, and we fully support Ukraine.

“We continue to monitor the situation carefully and our first concern is always the safety and security of our students and iTEP staff members wherever they may be.

“International education promotes global learning and cultural exchange. The recent actions against Ukraine are antithetical to this and against what international educators stand for.”

Earlier in March, compilers of rankings – along with other international education companies – announced operational changes as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A number said they would cease “promoting Russian universities or Russia as a study destination”.


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