Student Visa Exam Fraud Uncovered In UK

By Editorial 14 February, 2014

The UK Home Office has suspended use of the Test of English for International Communication exam in awarding student visas, after journalists discovered fraudulent practices in testing centers in London and Watford.

More than 200,000 UK student visas are issued annually outside of Britain, with a further 100,000 visa extensions granted within the UK, and applicants are required to pass the exam, known as TOEIC. The exam is administered by a US company, Educational Testing Service, but ETS does not run the testing centers where the exams are held or appoint invigilators.

An undercover investigation by the BBC's Panorama program found a testing center where native speakers were brought in to sit an on-line speaking exam on behalf of candidates, and where all the answers to a multiple choice exam were read out by the invigilator. In another location, genuine candidates were taken to another room while exams were sat on their behalf, and told to be ready to return to their desks if there should be an unexpected visit from the awarding body.

The documentary also showed how potential visa applicants could be furnished with bogus bank statements to prove they have sufficient funds for their studies, and pay for enrollment at an approved college where they would not be expected to attend.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May said that the evidence was "very shocking" and that she intended to do something about it. She explained that 700 colleges have already been banned from taking students from outside the EU following investigations, and that by the end of 2013 the Government had met a target of conducting 100,000 face-to-face interviews with visa applicants. She also added that there was a constant need to do more, but that the education sector needed to take some responsibility.

Tags: United Kingdom | Education | Expats | Visas And Passports | Education |


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