Overseas Students: English Language Tests

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:46 pm on 30th April 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 12:46 pm, 30th April 2019

The hon. Gentleman has chosen to focus on a very small number of students who may have had incorrect results. What we know, and what the evidence shows, is that our response back in 2014 was driven by systematic fraud that was perpetrated in colleges and has seen significant criminal convictions and sentences of 70 years. We are working with the NAO and through the courts. As I said, the Home Office has taken a pragmatic approach to the judicial reviews and appeals coming through the courts, recognising that many of these individuals have been in the country for a significant period. Of course, the ability to speak English in 2019 does not necessarily mean that an individual did not cheat in 2014 or could speak English to the required level then.

I would like to comment more on what we are doing for international students. The UK has a proud track record of attracting an increasing number of students to this country. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will welcome the commitment in the White Paper to continue to have no cap on the number of foreign students coming here and to make a more generous offer for post-study work arrangements for students who choose to come here. It is important that we support our world-class institutions and celebrate the fact that we have five British universities in the top 20 universities globally, and that we saw over the course of the past year a 10% increase in the number of tier 4 visas being applied for.