In May, it was uncovered that over 40,000 students had their UK visas revoked by the Home Office in 2014 over accusations of cheating on their English language test – between 2,000 and 4,000 students are believed to be wrongly accused.
After asking test providers for the proxies used to submit voice files for the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), 33,725 records were deemed to be “invalid” and 22,694 were “questionable.”
The accused students had their visa cancelled overnight and were immediately removed from their course, without launching an independent review, providing any evidence of cheating, or giving them a chance to appeal the decision, according to a recently released report.
Two days ago, these deported students were given a glimmer of hope by migrant support group, Migrant Voice. The group has called for the students to be able to resit their English language exam and resume the studies they were forced to abandon in the report.
The report, ‘I want my future back; International students found guilty until proven innocent’, states: “They arrived here attracted by the high reputation of Britain’s educational system in order to establish a foundation for successful careers in their own countries but were denied their education and their rights: they lost everything.”
— Migrant Voice (@MigrantVoiceUK) July 10, 2018
“They spent tens of thousands of pounds on university fees, living costs, and legal procedures, and the only result was that their lives were destroyed.”
Migrant Voices is urging the UK Home Office to put an immediate stop to any deportations or detentions, allow them to resit their English language test, clear the accused students’ names of any allegations and issue clear instructions to the universities to enable the students to finish their course.
Nazek Ramadan, Director of Migrant Voice, said:
“This is a Windrush-style example of disastrous decision-making, another toxic effect of the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy towards migrants,”
“The handling of the issue contradicts basic principles of British life, including the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the imposition of collective punishment. It’s been compounded by the way the Home Office has made legal challenges difficult for the students.”
While the demands are a step in the right direction, it may be too late for the students who were deported. Now fours years since the ‘scandal’, the students affected are likely to have moved on with their lives independent from their UK education.
The report notes how one student spent thousands of dollars reattaining his visa, just to be told his university would not allow him to return and continue his studies.
Can it really be assumed these people have the funds and time to return to a point in their lives that occurred four years ago?