Toefl confirms rules for UK university usage

16 June, 2014

An update on how the Toefl iBT test can be used by UK universities as a non-SELT (Secure English Language Test) has been issued by ETS, the US-based company that administers the test.


Earlier this year, ETS withdrew from a SELT license with the UK government, meaning that the Toefl and Toeic tests are no longer accepted by the Home Office for UK visa applications.

However, under current provisions, universities have the option to vouch for students presenting evidence of English other than a SELT test. Under these conditions, Toefl iBT scores can be used as a non-SELT.

A statement issued by Eileen Tyson, Executive Director of Global Client Relations, and Sandy Bhangal, Global Client Relations UK, said, “According to paragraph 92(a) of the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance (version 04/2014, document 2 entitled ‘Assigning CASs and Sponsoring Students’) and subsequent advice that ETS has received from the Home Office, HEIs [Higher Education Institutions] can choose their own way to assess English-language competency of students, but in doing so must ensure that students are proficient in English (all four components of learning) to level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).”

A statement on the ETS website confirmed the Toefl iBT scores to meet B2 level are: Total – 72; Reading – 18; Listening – 17; Writing – 17; Speaking – 20.

For courses below degree level, including foundation programmes and pre-sessional English, Toefl iBT cannot be used, the statement confirmed. It was also stated that as a transitional arrangement, Toefl iBT tests taken outside the UK before 17 April 2014 can still be accepted as SELTs for visa applications.

ETS decided to withdraw its license following Home Office investigations into instances of fraud uncovered by a BBC Panorama documentary programme at two UK test centres for the Toeic exam. The company has subsequently announced the global roll-out of biometric voice identification for the Toefl test.

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