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International student visa language testing restricted to two providers by UK government

Posted on March 12, 2015
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The UK government has tightened the rules around the delivery of English Language testing in response to accusations of cheating and fraud in student visa applications.

In response to a BBC documentary, revealing cheating and fraud in English language testing required to gain a visa for study at a UK university, the UK government has tightened the rules around sitting the test.

Last year, BBC One’s Panorama programme uncovered evidence of fraud and cheating in the student visa application system and as a consequence, the Home Office suspended all English tests run by the English Testing Service (ETS), one of the biggest English language testing companies in the world.

The programme suggested that there was a “thriving market” in false documents.  BBC researchers discovered that, for a fee, criminal agents were helping non-English speaking applicants to obtain a visa by sitting the required English language tests on their behalf. Following undercover footage of a visa applicant being replaced by a ‘fake sitter’, the BBC went on to show the student receiving a genuine exam certificate and a pass with high marks.

Home Secretary Theresa May suspended the ETS along with another college, which was exposed in the programme as dealing in fraudulent applications.

The government has now restricted delivery of the test to two providers. From 6 April 2015 only Trinity College London and IELTS Consortia will deliver the SELT although SELT test centres, which are spread throughout the UK and the rest of the world.

According to official guidance, applicants who take the language test on or before 5 April 2015 with the current providers will be able to use their certificates until 5 November 2015.

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