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The Home Office has suspended all English tests done through ETS Global in the UK after the BBC uncovered fraud in the student visa system.
BBC Panorama’s investigation proved that students with poor English had passed the TOEIC exam which is needed to obtain student visa extensions by being replaced during one part of the test by so called fake sitters. During the multiple choice part of the TOEIC the correct answers were read out loud by the invigilator.
The fraud was initiated by Studentway Education, an immigration consultancy in West London. Students were guaranteed a pass for £500, three times higher than the official ETS fee for taking the exam.
ETS Global’s website for the UK has put up the following message:
The UK Home Office has requested ETS to suspend TOEIC and TOEFL testing temporarily in the UK related to immigration purposes. Candidates who have appointments to take a TOEIC or TOEFL test for immigration purposes will be contacted to process a refund. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
The English testing market is very lucrative and essentially dominated by global players like ETS. Each year around 100.000 non-EU students get their visa extended in the UK alone. With the public opinion in the country already shifting strongly towards anti-EU and anti-immigration this latest scandal will surely have consequences for foreign students in the UK down the line.
According to the BBC the Home Office has already stopped 700 colleges from bringing students from outside the EU into the UK.
As Germany and France have similar immigration regulations it will be interesting to see whether similar frauds are being discovered there as well.