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Exposed: 7,000 foreign students may have been deported by MISTAKE


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Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policy may have helped lead to 7,000 foreign students mistakenly being deported from the UK after they were falsely accused of cheating in English language tests.

A visa requirement for overseas students is that they must prove their English language proficiency. One way for foreign students to do this is by taking a test, however, in 2014 a BBC Panorama investigation revealed widespread cheating at several colleges which held one English language test, the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC).

It was following this expose that the government asked the company English Testing Services - who run the TOEIC test -  to analyse sound files, in order to see whether students were cheating by getting other people to sit the tests for them.

According to The Financial Times, in total, 33,725 test results were identified as “invalid” while 22,694 were classed as “questionable”. Students whose tests were marked “invalid” had their visa revoked, with many not allowed to appeal this decision. Those whose tests were “questionable” were invited for interview before any action was taken.

The Home Office had revoked nearly 36,000 visas from foreign students by the end of 2016. At the time these students were being targeted Theresa May was Home Secretary.

However, at an immigration tribunal it emerged that that when ETS’ computer based voice analysis was checked against human analysis ETS was wrong in 20 percent of cases. This means over 7,000 students were highly likely to have been wrongly accused of cheating.

Theresa May introduced a “hostile environment” policy during her time as Home Secretary, it was an approach which focused on a 'deport first, appeal later' process. The policy, which has been heavily criticised and linked to directly causing the Windrush scandal is said to have potentially contributed to the way these foreign students were treated and their deportation which was carried out without allowing many students the chance to appeal.

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