The United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria has reacted to Nigerians’ quest for the review of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) which mandates Nigerians seeking to study or work in the United Kingdom to sit and pass the test.
On Saturday, in a response to an earlier enquiry by PREMIUM TIMES shared by the head of communications at the British High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, Dean Hurlock, the UK home office said it is important that anyone willing to either work or study in the UK shows evidence of language competence to integrate in the country.
The statement noted that UK uses the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), an international standard for describing language ability, to set level of competence required to integrate in the UK.
“We use CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) levels to provide a common set of standards, and set them on a route by route basis, taking into account the types of activities and nature of the route. CEFR standards are an important common baseline to ensure applicants meet the required language standard,” the response noted.
On fees charged
Speaking on the allegation of charging exorbitant fees, the response explained that individual test providers set the fees but these must be comparable to what is charged globally.
The statement reads in part; “Individual test providers set the fees for SELT. UK Visas & Immigration stipulate that the fees providers charge our customers must be comparable to the fees they charge others for the same or similar English language tests.”
The Home Office, however, explained that Bachelor’s Degree holders or its equivalent will not need to take a Secure English Language Test (SELT) if it is verified by UK Ecctis if it “meets, or exceeds the recognised standard of a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate”.
It said on behalf of UK national agencies, Ecctis provides evidence of the level of qualifications and, or English language proficiency for the UK Home Office.
It provides services on behalf of the UK Government in qualifications, skills, and migration.
The United Kingdom also added in its response that, “An accurate and reliable SELT process is highly important to ensure people coming to work and study have the skills they need to complete the activity they are coming to the UK to do.”
Within the last few days, many young Nigerians have taken to social media to protest what they described as the imposition of IELTS on the country’s citizens willing to relocate to the UK.
More than 60,000 Nigerians have signed an online petition initiated by Policy Shapers, a public policy organisation, seeking the outright removal of Secure English Languages Tests (SELT) requests such as IELTS from Nigerians or reducing the cost of taking the tests.
#ReformIELTSPolicy, #IELTS and #TOEFL trended for hours in Nigeria on Twitter on Thursday, with some Nigerians accusing the UK of commercialising the tests.
They lamented that Nigerians and other anglophone countries in Africa, whose official language and language of instruction in schools is English, had to prove to the British Government that they can speak the language at an amount three times Nigeria’s minimum wage.
They compared the cost of taking the N90,000 average cost of the English Proficiency Test whose result can be valid for only two years to the French Proficiency Test, which costs half the minimum wage and valid for a lifetime.
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