UK parliament panel opens inquiry into treatment of Indian students


LONDON: A British parliamentary panel has launched a formal inquiry into the treatment of international students, majority of them Indian, who were accused of cheating on English language tests and forced to leave the UK.

The House of Commons’ home affairs select committee, chaired by Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz, launched the inquiry into the UK home office response to the cheating scandal at a hearing on Tuesday.

“This is a devastating verdict on ministers and officials at the home office. It is clear that there are many innocent people who speak impeccable English who have been denied their right to remain in the UK because of the (over) reaction of the home office,” Vaz said.

The hearing this week followed a ruling last month by the UK’s upper tribunal (immigration and asylum chamber) allowing a test appeal by two of the students accused of cheating in their TOEIC conducted by a subsidiary of US-based ETS.

The cheating scam was uncovered by a “BBC Panorama” investigation in February 2014. It revealed that immigration consultancies and international education agencies were charging fees to help international students with poor English get around English language tests (TOEIC) required for student visas and visa extensions.

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