Stephen has welcomed a report published by the Public Accounts Committee in which it found that the Home Office had shown a "staggering" lack of concern for the welfare of students wrongly accused of cheating in their English language exams.
The report focused on a crackdown launched by the Home Office in the wake of a 2014 BBC Panorama documentary which exposed cheating on the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). The test - run at the time by the American firm ETS - was used to ensure those studying in the UK had a sufficient understanding of the English language.
The Pubic Accounts Committee said the way the Home Office designed the visa system "left it open to large-scale abuse", and accused the department of having "rushed to penalise students without establishing whether [exams provider] ETS was involved in fraud or if it had reliable evidence of people cheating".
The committee said the Home Office had "been quick to act on imperfect evidence, but slow in responding to indications that innocent people may have been caught up in its actions". It later called on the Home Office to set up a "fair and trustworthy means of helping all individuals who may have been wrongly accused" of cheating within the next three months, and orders the department to carry out a major review of its contracts with overseas providers by early next year.
Commenting on the report, Stephen said: “Today’s report by the Public Accounts Committee makes grim reading for the Home Office.”
“Once again it is found that ministers made repeated errors of judgement when confronted with unsafe and incomplete evidence. The decisions they made have caused untold hardship to thousands of students who overnight had their visas revoked, cancelled or curtailed, with little or no legal redress.
“It is not too late for the Home Office to put right what it got so wrong and finally give the students the justice they deserve.”