Only six providers at present
11th May 2011: The UK immigration authorities have hugely slashed the number of language evaluation providers, they believe appropriate to offer tests to demonstrate the English skills of visa applicants.
More than 12 providers comprised since language testing was initiated four years ago; as part of the points based visa system have been declined, just six remaining. The deleted providers include the Academy of Oriental Cuisine, in Leeds, and the College of Excellence, north-west London.
Last month the UK Border Agency, which controls visa processing, revealed its amended list of English language tests that will be recognised as part of visa applications to come to the UK to live, work and study.
The new list will come into effect by July for applicants for work visas under the "highly skilled" Tier 1 or "general worker" Tier 2 categories and spouses or civil partners who are applying to join a partner in the UK. The list already is relevant to students who require visas under the Tier 4 category.
All groups of visa applicants will use the new list, which point out the scores required in each of 26 tests that can be used to display the range of language ability levels requisite under different visa categories.
The UKBA uses language levels defined by the Common European Framework of Reference scales. Spouses or civil partners requesting to join partners in the UK will need to make obvious they have achieved the beginner level A1 in speaking and listening. The students aspiring for degree-level study will need to achieve an intermediate B2 score.
The UKBA’s criteria for picking test providers for the new list included a specification that the tests were existing in at least 40 countries and they were taken by no fewer than 2,400 candidates per year.
UKBA also asked for evidence of test validity, frequently updated test items and anti-fraud and anti-cheating measures.
Daniel Guhr, of the Illuminate Consulting Group, has developed a predicting model that he said offers a more detailed calculation of international student movement.
The model assesses 128 variables, including English language test scores and measures of aptitude.
Dr Guhr mentioned in an Australian paper that they understand that the pool of students who were rationally and linguistically eligible to study at an advanced level of English, were actually a lot smaller than most people thought.
He asserted it was becoming painfully clear that they had a considerable issue with English language capabilities among international students.
His team estimated that just over 600,000 Chinese 18-year-olds would have the aptitude and English skills for degree-level study in countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK. While 170,000 were already enrolled abroad, the rest would be unavailable to recruiters for a range of reasons.