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THE UK: Latest News

TOEFL no longer accepted in UK student visa applications

UK Home Office announce that they no longer accept TOEFL tests as part of visa applications, due to concerns of fraud.

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The Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) test will no longer be accepted in applications for UK student visas following reports of fraud earlier this year. It will, however, still be accepted in UK university admissions applications.

The reports, made public on BBC’s television show Panorama in February, exposed instances of cheating in the TOEIC English language test administered by global testing giant Educational Testing Service (ETS). Following investigations, the UK government has chosen not to extend its licence agreement with ETS, cancelling validity of both the TOEFL and TOEIC tests, each part of the ETS’ Secure English Language Testing (SELT) service.

‘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 test honestly and fairly,’ read an ETS statement.

‘ETS has made the decision not to extend our Secure English Language Testing (SELT) licence with the Home Office. As a result, TOEIC and TOEFL iBT testing will no longer be offered for UK visa-granting purposes. We’ve made this decision in response to the security challenges portrayed in the BBC programme.’

With licencing arrangements expiring on April 5, the UK Home Office sent official statements to stakeholders on April 17.

Hidden footage in the Panorama report showed "fake sitters" taking the TOEIC test on the applicants’ behalf whilst the ‘real’ candidates had their photographs taken by an invigilator. The programme also exposed two immigration consultants producing fake documents for visa applicants, including bank and academic statements.

All ETS tests, as well as Eden College and Leyton College, the two colleges identified by the programme, were suspended after the programme aired on February 10.

UK student visa candidates will now need to sit a test run by one of five government-approved administrators, including the IELTS test. Students who have sat an ETS test as part of a pending visa application should contact the Home Office for advice on how best to proceed.

‘We have no plans to seek renewal of the licensing arrangement at this time but won’t rule it out in the future,’ a spokesperson for TOEFL told PIE News. ‘The TOEFL can still be used, as it always has been for university admission...We just can’t allow it to be used as part of the UK visa-granting process.’

The TOEFL remains the widely-recognised English language test in the world, and is accepted at over 9,000 institutions across more than 130 countries.


Looking to apply for a UK student visa? Learn more about the IELTS test, and how to apply for a UK student visa the correct way.


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English tests fraud exposed in BBC UK student visas investigation

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