Toefl and Toeic suspended for UK visas

22 April, 2014


The Toefl and Toeic English language tests will no longer be accepted by the UK Home Office for visa application purposes, following an investigation into fraudulent activities at two UK Toeic test centres.

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Subsequent to the broadcast of a BBC Panorama programme exposing fraudulent practices at Eden College International and Universal Trading Centre,  it has been announced that a contract between the Home Office and ETS, the USA-based parent company administering Toefl and Toeic, to provide Secure English Language Tests (Selts) will not be extended, meaning the tests will no longer be accepted as evidence of English language ability in UK visa applications.

“Our contract with ETS has ended and will not be extended,” confirmed a Home Office Spokesperson.

“Customers with appointments booked with ETS should check the website for information on how to book a new test with an approved Secure English Language Test provider,” the Spokesperson added. The Home Office has also issued an updated list of SELT providers.

Concerning the fraud, the Home Office Spokesperson said, “Our investigations, following the Panorama programme, are ongoing and we are currently working with ETS to investigate the individuals and organisations involved in seeking to exploit the system. This type of abuse is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. If appropriate, we will be pursuing prosecutions and removal from the UK.”

ETS said in a statement, “Following the broadcast of a BBC Panorama programme in February 2014, which highlighted an organised criminal element seeking to circumvent the UK’s visa-granting process, ETS has made the decision not to extend our SELT license with the Home Office. As a result, Toeic and Toefl iBT testing will no longer be offered for UK visa-granting purposes.”

“Security is and always has been a top priority; however, we’ve made this decision in response to the security challenges portrayed in the BBC programme. We acknowledge that we fell short of our own high standards and sincerely regret the dishonest activities of third-party contractors in the UK, whose job it was to administer the Toeic tests honestly and fairly.”

A spokesperson for ETS confirmed, “The Toefl test can still be used, as it always has been, for admission purposes to UK universities.  It is only the UK’s visa-granting process from which we withdrew our tests.  It likewise does not affect TOEFL’s acceptance anywhere else in the world.”  

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