The All-Party Parliamentary Group on TOEIC has today launched a report following its recent inquiry.
The inquiry found that the US firm , ETS, who were contracted by the Home Office to manage English language tests used evidence alleging students cheated that could not be relied upon. The report concludes that the evidence used against the students was “…confused, misleading, incomplete and unsafe”.
Students had immense difficulty in obtaining crucial evidence. Those who did receive voice clips found that they were incomplete, and didn’t correspond to the test they sat. And crucially, there was no metadata on the clips so it was impossible to confirm when or where the recording was made. Without “evidence of continuity”, a case of fraud cannot – and should not – be made.
The report makes seven recommendations to Ministers:
There must be no further detentions or forced removals of students accused of cheating in a TOEIC test;
People who lost their visas because ETS accused them of cheating should be allowed to sit a new, secure English language test, and, if they pass, their previous visa status (or today’s equivalent) should be restored without charge, valid for at least 12 months;
The immigration record of every person who passes the new test should make clear that the allegation of cheating no longer stands;
Higher and further education institutions should be advised that the TOEIC allegation, and related issues such as a break in studies, should be wholly disregarded in assessing applications from these students;
A working group should be established to support students and facilitate their return to study, to support those on work or entrepreneur visas to find new jobs or restart their businesses, and to monitor this support process, with representatives from Home Office, UKVI, Department of Education, Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UCAS, relevant third sector and student support organisations, and students themselves;
Financial support should be provided to enable students who lost their fees as a result of a TOEIC allegation to complete their studies;
The Home Office should work with High Commissions in relevant countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, to ensure that those who have returned home or been forcibly removed are informed about these arrangements.
The inquiry heard from lawyer Michael Biggs of 12 Old Square. He has worked on over 100 cases and concluded that the Government developed a process that made it as difficult as possible for those accused of TOEIC fraud to seek legal and financial redress.
Speaking about the report, Stephen said: “…Some students have – at great cost – managed to clear their names. However, universities still see them as a risk due to the nature of the allegations made against them. As things stand, and without help from the Government, their futures remain bleak. This report sets out crucial steps we believe the Government must now take.”
The report can be read here.