English UK, the organisation representing more than 470 fully-accredited English language teaching centres, has criticised an American-based exam body for not properly monitoring activities at a UK testing centre.
Undercover Panorama journalists paid a London immigration consultancy £500 for a guaranteed English exam pass at Home Office-approved exam centre Eden College International in East London. The researcher was set up on a computer to sit the TOEIC test, but like the other candidates had a fake sitter, who took the spoken and written tests in their place. The genuine candidates did have their photos taken as proof they were there. The students took the second part of the exam a week later, when they were told all the correct answers.
If passed, the Home Office-approved Secure English Language Tests allow students to extend their Tier 4 General Student Visas.
Tony Millns, chief executive of English UK, said: "The problem appears to be that the testing body, ETS of Princeton New Jersey, has not been sufficiently rigorous in its test centre approval process and its monitoring, since if there was large-scale fraud it should have had suspicions about a centre with a very high pass rate or very high (100%) test scores by several candidates on the same test."
Mr Millns also criticised comments made by shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper about the security of the Student Visitor Visa route into the UK. He said the Home Office had recently reviewed the student visitor visa route and found no evidence of abuse. "This incident has nothing to do with the student visitor visa, so Yvette Cooper's comments are completely wrong."