We have released a new report today which has revealed further evidence of the ongoing injustice from the ‘TOEIC’ (Test of English for International Communication) scandal.
The report looks at the consequences of the scandal on its victims, which after a 2016 appeal found that Immigration officials have been unwilling to investigate alleged wrongful accusations of English language test fraud, even though there were significant holes in the evidence used to withdraw more than 35,000 visas.
The report, compiled by Bindmans LLP, found that:
“that there has been absolutely no willingness by the Home Office to consider representations or evidence put forward by students to explain their innocence. Students who came to the UK already with excellent English – in some cases fluent English – were accused. Students who whose tutors and lecturers gave glowing references attesting to their ability could not shake the Home Office’s conclusion that they were guilty.”
One case study from the report stated:
“The effect of these allegations on our lives has been absolutely devastating… The idea of this allegation crushes me – it is deeply shameful. Only my husband and my close friends know about it. I cannot understand why this has happened to us. Our lives have stopped. We are really broken inside. My husband and I live in a constant state of worry and panic that something awful is going to happen. It feels like we have lost all control over our lives.”
Therefore we are pleased to draw major recommendations from the report:
- An independent investigation into the scandal including: following up the unpursued lines of inquiry, recommending appropriate outcomes for successful students and making recommendations for redress
- Individuals seeking to prove their innocence should be granted access to Legal Aid or a special legal assistance scheme for immigration advice and representation in the Immigration Tribunal
- In country appeals should be reinstated for international students
- A root and branch review of the Tier 4 sponsorship system including an investigation of the effectiveness of complaints procedures and the OIA complaints scheme
- International students have access to a protection scheme which they may access where their Tier 4 sponsor loses its licence
- International students to be removed from net migration targets
Our NUS International Students Officer, Yinbo Yu, whilst launching the report explained:
“That thousands of students were assumed to be guilty until proved innocent is highly indicative of the ‘hostile environment’ policy that had been pursued by governments over the years. This scandal broke 4 years ago, yet for many falsely accused individuals there has been no resolution. An accusation of cheating by a foreign government is, for many, a very serious matter – our report released this week, undertaken alongside Bindmans Solicitors, has found depression, anxiety and/or sleep disturbance to be almost universal amongst falsely accused individuals. Many are in serious debt. We are calling for an independent investigation into this scandal to follow up unpursued lines of inquiry and to make recommendations for redress.
Sadly, this scandal is just a symptom of wider policy decisions. If the Government are really serious about making the UK a welcoming place to study, international students must be removed from net migration targets”
You can now read the full report here. The FOIA Correspondance with the home office here, the MM joint expert reports here and the redacted correspondance with Jones Day LLP here.