WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
May 23 2022
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

Home Office accused of ‘toxic combination of indifference and incompetence’ following English language testing scandal

Home Office accused of ‘toxic combination of indifference and incompetence’ following English language testing scandal

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The Home Office has been accused by MPs of ‘presiding over a shocking miscarriage of justice’ amidst an urgent debate on the English language testing scandal. Between 2011 and 2014, thousands of international students were wrongly accused of dishonesty and deception in an exam that is required to be taken as part of the visa application process. Lawmakers have since criticised the Home Office for failing to act on the crisis and have called for the provision of greater support for victims of the cheating allegations.

As reported in The Guardian, many of the students who were wrongly accused of cheating were detained and deported, with around ‘2,500 being forcibly removed’. A ‘further 7,200 left the country after being warned that they faced detention and removal if they stayed’. Students should be helped to clear their names, shadow Home Office minister Stephen Kinnock told parliament. Kinnock said the Home Office was not fit for purpose and that the case was the result of a ‘toxic combination of indifference and incompetence’.

Shana Shaikh came to London to study for a masters degree in business in 2011. She was fluent in English but was required to take the test to renew her student visa in 2014, where she was accused of cheating. She has since ‘spent £20,000 on legal fees attempting to get the accusation overturned,’ and has not been able to work or study since the accusation was made.

Other students have declared their innocence and over 12,500 legal appeals against the Home Office have been heard in UK courts; more than 3,600 people have won their appeals.

The shadow Home Office minister Stephen Kinnock accused the Home Office of not being fit for purpose, highlighting that the scandal brought the department’s critical flaws into one toxic combination of indifference and incompetence’.

A BBC documentary has cast further doubts on the reliability of the evidence deployed by the Home Office which was used to accuse students of deception. Whistleblower testimony and official documents obtained by the Newsnight programme exposed the Home Office’s attempt to remove students from the UK despite being aware of the flaws in the data that pointed to cheating.

The scandal has since been the focus of a critical report by the National Audit Office.