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UK: Home Office investigated on TOEIC scandal

Photo: Skeeze/Pixabay

She said that many were wrongly accused and have spent the last five years “trapped in a legal labyrinth"

This is a welcome development for the international students who have been fighting to clear their names for the past five years and, the charity supporting them, Migrant Voice.

Thousands of international students had their visa cancelled or were detained or deported on allegations of cheating after a government investigation into limited fraud uncovered by a BBC documentary.

“We hope that the report will expose the truth about the Home Office’s shambolic and hostile approach”

Launched late last week, the investigation will be conducted by the NAO, an independent body which audits government departments and agencies.

On its website, the NAO reported it is looking at the information held by the Home Office on the number of people that have been alleged to have cheated and at the action the Home Office has taken to date.

Over the past five years, the handling of the case by the Home Office has been criticised by several MPs and the evidence used in this case was defined “flimsy” last year in a parliamentary debate, during which the case had been branded “Britain’s forgotten immigration scandal”.

The case centres around the evidence used in assessing the fraudulent intent of international students who sat the TOEIC exam.

In 2016, a tribunal found that the Home Office subsequent investigation – undertaken during a hostile period to immigrants in the country when Theresa May was Secretary of State – had been based on “limited hearsay evidence”.

The story made the BBC’s 10pm TV news show and was covered in mainstream newspapers

“We hope that the report produced by the NAO will expose the truth about the Home Office’s shambolic and hostile approach to the allegations of cheating,” Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan told The PIE News.

Almost 34,000 international students and entrepreneurs were accused of cheating and 22,000 were told their results were questionable, Ramadan explained.

She said that many were wrongly accused and have spent the last five years “trapped in a legal labyrinth,” having lost rights in the UK and with a criminal conviction preventing them from pursuing education or employment elsewhere.

“Stripped of the right to work, study or even access healthcare, many of the students are destitute and suffering from severe mental health problems,” she said.

“We believe [the NAO report] will be a vital tool in holding the government to account on this issue and ensuring that justice is done and these students can continue with their lives.”

“This is an important step on the road to justice for thousands of innocent students”

Migrant Voice has been calling on the government to allow the students accused of cheating to sit a new English language test to prove their innocence. Ramadan said the development is an important step on the road to justice.

“This is an important step on the road to justice for thousands of innocent students.”

“The criminal allegation against them means that they cannot continue their studies, get a good job or obtain a visa to travel anywhere in the world. They have lost their futures.”

Ramandan told The PIE that Migratnt Voice had meetings with NAO representatives over the past few months to share information gathered during the campaign, and has facilitated meetings with the students affected.

“We will remain in close touch with the NAO as they conduct their formal investigation and seek to be of help wherever possible,” she said.

“I hope we might finally find out why so many innocent students have been treated so disgracefully”

The main representative of the students’ group, English Language Test Victims, Sheikh Amin told The PIE he was cautiously optimistic this development will lead to a speedy resolution of the case.

“We welcome the NAO decision to investigate the TOEIC scandal after five years of struggles and campaigns. It’s a huge step for us and it will help Parliament have a more clear view on the Home Office actions on many thousands genuine students,” he said.

Stephen Timms MP, a long-time supporter of the campaign who recently launched an All Party Parliamentary Group dedicated to the case, also expressed hope for the NAO investigation.

“I welcome the NAO’s decision to investigate the TOEIC scandal on behalf of Parliament. It will report to the Public Accounts Committee,” he said.

“I hope we might finally find out why so many innocent students have been treated so disgracefully.”

The PIE’s coverage of the case can be accessed here.

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5 Responses to UK: Home Office investigated on TOEIC scandal

  1. There is something very fishy going on with IELTS marking. Outstanding students are being forced to sit this exam over and over again, spending hundreds, even thousands, of pounds. Such students typically obtain ‘native’/’near-native’ scores in reading, listening and speaking but intermediate in writing. This is a new trend, very disturbing, spoiling the future of international students with offers from universities including Oxford, LSE and UCL.

    • That’s a BS statement, IELTS is super easy. I’m a native speaker and didn’t study one bit to get a 7.5 an above average score but nothing special. Those of extreme intellectual english ability who ACTUALLY study should easily score the 6.5 most british universities require. Or they are not LSE, Oxbridge, UCL, Imperial…type intellectuals.

  2. In Japan, IiBC /TOEIC who are supposed to insure that the test scores are achieved legitimately in accordance with the rules are aware of instances that prior to taking the exam students have been provided with the actual TOEIC exam (not a practice exam) that they will be taking for an “official score” to study. Furthermore, they are also aware that prior to the exams being sent to the testing center for the actual grading of the exam individuals /institutions that are licensed to administer the exam are using an answer sheet to “check the test takers answers”. Both of these actions are in violation of the rules and regulations of TOEIC. Yet, the test results are allowed to be used in order to assist in among other things obtaining visas. How, is this NOT cheating? Yes, there is proof of this. Both documents and recordings with officials of the security department for TOEIC that provide irrefutable proof. In fact, steps are taken to cover up this. Again, there is proof.

  3. I live in Japan and for 15 years taught English. I know for a fact that IiBC/ETS /TOEIC was and is aware that there were instances of cheating on the TOEIC exam. In numerous instances the actual TOEIC exam, not a practice exam, was provided to test takers to use as, “study /teaching material”, weeks prior to actually taking the exam. This is against the rules and regulations of TOEIC and is actually illegal. The test scores are used for the purpose of obtaining an English level certificate . These certificates are used for numerous purposes including obtaining student and workers visas to study and work abroad. Also, after the exams had been taken the individuals/ institutions that had been authorized to proxy the TOEIC exam were using an answer sheet to check the exams prior to submitting them for official grading. This is also against the rules of TOEIC has it calls into question the credibility of the test results. I have documentation and recorded conversations with the security division of IiBC /TOEIC that can prove this. I have contacted the NAO in the UK about this and was told that this information had been forwarded to the Home Office there. As of this date I have not received any response from them. One has to wonder if they are really interested in the truth in this matter.

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