Theresa May, Britain’s new Prime Minister, is under the microscope following allegations that she wrongly deported almost 50,000 international students. The focus of the investigation centres around a cheating scam in an English test: It was discovered that in just one school out of hundreds across the country, cheating had taken place. Following this, the Former Home Secretary deemed it justifiable to rule that this meant all who sat the test – across the whole country, not just the school in question – were guilty.
In February 2014, a BBC Panorama documentary highlighted how the Home Office were at fault for incorrectly deporting 48,000 students. The alarming news was also vastly covered in ‘The Hindu’ news publication. One of the students they interviewed who was affected by the deportation order, Rassal Mohamad, spoke of his delight following the decision. Rassal said, ‘I have lost three years of time, effort, money, education, my whole life. I honour the court. We have not waged war on the British government, but only against the injustice of the Home Office decision. Now I look forward to the Home Office reversing the decision in my case. I want them to grant me a work permit so that I may start working, as I am already registered as a social worker.’
Following the release of the documentary, the country’s Former Immigration Minister James Brokenshire sent an official statement to Parliament in June of 2014. Mr Brokenshire stated an in depth exploration after the Panorama discovery found evidence of 46,000 ‘invalid and questionable’ test results.
Post investigation, Mrs May as a result made the decision to retract sponsorship licenses of nearly 60 educational institutions. Furthermore, she chose to detain and deport tens of thousands of international students who had previously been awarded the TOEIC certificate.
This astounding move has now been thrust into the limelight after the huge 48,000 figure was announced in the Upper Tribunal (Asylum and Immigration). During this ruling, the verdict claimed that the Home Secretary’s evidence suffered from ‘multiple frailties and shortcomings.’
President McCloskey, leader of the tribunal said in light of the judgement, ‘the evidence adduced on behalf of the Secretary of State emerged paled and heavily weakened by the examination to which it was subjected.’
It was also pointed out that throughout the whole of the tribunal, there was in fact no evidence given from any English Testing Service (ETS) witness. The tests themselves were designed by a US company who were contracted by the Home Office. The president of the company spoke out about this fact by saying ‘almost remarkably, ETS provided no evidence, directly or indirectly, to this tribunal.’ In summary he went on to state that ‘the legal burden of proof falling on the Secretary of State has not been discharged. The Appellants are clear winners.’
This immigration tribunal verdict will now mean that the thousands of effect students now have the right to return to the country. Companies who offer a specialist immigration service have already stated they have received an influx of resubmissions following the news, and many compensation claims have been filed for the wrongdoing that has occurred.
Meanwhile the Home Office has already been hit with mass criticism. Their spokesperson released the following closing statement on the matter: ‘the Government continues to tackle abuse of our immigration system and protect the reputation of our world-class education institutions.
‘The investigation into the abuse of English language testing in 2014 revealed extremely serious, large scale, organized fraud. We are very disappointed by the decision and are awaiting a copy of the full determination to consider next steps including an appeal.’
Veronica Pembleton is a freelance writer and research journalist, who specializes in a number of core areas, including travel, current events and law. Through studying journalism at university, Veronica was introduced to a number of contacts in different industries, where she was able to build her portfolio of feature articles.