BRITISH home secretary Sajid Javid is under immense pressure to resolve a scandal that has the potential to be “bigger than Windrush.”
Around 34,000 overseas students have had their visas cancelled and more than 1,000 were forcibly removed from the UK after they were accused of cheating in a Home Office-approved English language test.
Test of English for International Communication, known as Toeic, is a requirement for visa renewal and a BBC Panorama documentary in 2014 revealed proof of fraud in at least two centres where students were taking the tests.
The footage was released when Theresa May was home secretary and at the time she said: “What Panorama has uncovered is extremely important. It’s very shocking and I want to do something about it.”
According to The Guardian, students who took the test more than five years ago were still being targeted by immigration enforcement officers and being taken to immigration detention centres ahead of enforced removal from the UK.
Some have been fighting unsuccessfully to clear their reputations and they have been prevented from working or continuing their studies.
“Panorama established that a few dozen people cheated, but the way the government has responded has blighted the lives of thousands and thousands who did not cheat,” Labour MP Stephen Timms was quoted as saying.
Mike Gapes, the MP for Ilford South, has described this as “a bigger scandal than Windrush in terms of the number of individuals removed from the country and whose livelihoods are being destroyed by anguish and despair.”
Nazek Ramadan, the director of Migrant Voice, said it was an “outrage” that thousands were still suffering because of wrongful accusations.
“In this country, you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty–but for these students, that principle was thrown out of the window,” said Ramadan.