International News in Brief – 18/02/2014

 
 

Student visa tests suspended over fraud claims

BBC Panorama’s investigation has captured immigrants cheating on English language tests in a leading global firm, ETS. The resulting video evidence has led to the Home Office suspending all examination sittings for visa purposes.

Panorama investigators posed as non-EU citizens with poor English seeking this fraudulent service. Undercover footage showed several agents charging fees to carry out this fraud as they guaranteed an exam pass for £500; three times the cost of an exam.

Visa applicants were substituted for fluent English speakers who took their oral and written ETS test while the impostor sat their exam and immigrants waited to have their photo taken. On a subsequent occasion, candidates sat a second exam this time and invigilators read out all accurate answers. The applicants were then awarded with their TOEIC certificate making them eligible for a UK student visa.

Home Secretary, Theresa May, said the government would change the “out of control” immigration system by introducing in-person interviews and urging the educational sector to counteract fraud.

 

New York State’s top Judge allows early bar exam in exchange for pro bono work

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has proposed that in exchange for free legal aid, law students will be enabled to take their Bar Exams early. Instead of waiting until summer after graduation, students can now sit exams in February of third year.

With declining lucrative career prospects and crippling student-loan debts, US law school enrolment declined to 1977 pre-economic crisis levels, resulting in a collapse in supply of lawyers providing legal aid to the poor. To meet demand for free legal aid services Lippman seeks to implement this “cornerstone for the future of legal education.”

Lippman’s annual address to the judiciary has been met with caution. Namely its success depends on the quality of external practical training and time constraints for students studying for the bar.

Head of the American Bar Association, Randall T. Shepard, has praised the proposal as it is voluntary. However, this pro bono work experience does not directly target the more prevalent economic issue that there is high unemployment in this sector.

President Obama has endorsed a more extreme two-year programme for the Bar Exams, thus enabling students to avoid unnecessary costs by taking the bar exam after two years of college and leaving if they are offered employment.

 

Majority of Indian students studying in the UK feel unwelcome

In a 3,100 sample of international students’ attitudes, half felt that the UK government was “not welcoming” or “not welcoming at all towards overseas students.

The National Union of Students (NUS) study showed even more negative experiences of Indian PhD students in the UK as 63% felt unwanted; this figure was consistent with both Japanese and Nigerian students. The UK earns almost £8 billion annually from international students.

Unesco’s Institute for Statistics shows a yearly increase in the world’s international student numbers of 12%. The UK is the world’s second largest overseas student destination. The hostility felt by international students may be a contributing factor to the 340,000 students taking UK degrees in their home countries. This may account for a 70% increase in cross-border studies this past decade.

Two in five revealed what irked them most was landlords checking their visa status. While almost 75% said a National Health Service charge would make it impractical for them to continue studies in the UK. Unsurprisingly there has been a 23% decline in Indian student enrolment in UK third level education since 2010.

 

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