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 Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Immigration, Asylum and Border Control) 12:46 pm, 30th April 2019

First, I give my sincere congratulations to Stephen Timms not only on securing this urgent question but on the manner in which he has relentlessly pursued this issue, which is finally getting the attention it has long deserved. For far, far too many people, this episode represents an absolute travesty of justice. When the Home Office discovered that ETS had completely failed to prevent widespread cheating—indeed, that some ETS staff were actively involved in facilitating it—it should have sacked the company and sought compensation from it. Instead, unbelievably, the Home Office asked ETS to mark its own dodgy homework and re-check the tests. How can that possibly be justified? The Minister referred to evidence, but in fact we are talking about the totally opaque say-so of ETS, on which basis the Home Office decided that thousands of students were guilty, and their lives were subsequently ruined. There is an abundance of evidence that a large number were totally innocent. They deserve an apology, and much more than that. Will she, at the very least, reverse the draconian repeal of in-country appeal rights that deprived many of justice? Will she agree to all that cross-party MPs have been demanding, including, as the right hon. Gentleman said, new tests and restored visas for those who pass, because that is the bare minimum that needs to be done to right this wrong?