The unholy mess of English language testing

Winston Peters

Wellington, August 1, 2017

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse needs to front up to prove his claim that the government is investigating and prosecuting widespread abuse of English language testing.

The reality is an unholy mess is going on.

Painful chronology

In October last year, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) investigator Theodore Ashton found that thousands of approved residence applications prior to October 2016 could be in error because of fraudulent English testing.

In November 2015, Nigel Bickle, Deputy Chief Executive of Immigration New Zealand, said on a test sample that 95 out of 98 visa applicants were not asked for any evidence that they met the minimum English proficiency.

In June 2016, in another MBIE sample, manager Paul Arram found that out of 105 applicants, only one applicant was requested by Immigration New Zealand to provide an English language test certificate.

In May this year the New Zealand Qualifications Authority said English testing mechanisms for overseas students at even the highest performing tertiary institutions were unsatisfactory.

Not the truth?

Under the Minister’s watch, educational institutions are routinely accepting overseas students despite hopelessly poor English and giving these students the answers to pass.

The minister’s claim in Parliament today that the government was doing what the public expected – investigating and prosecuting – shows he is playing fast and loose with the truth.

Where’s the proof?

Winston Peters is elected Member of Parliament from Northland Constituency and Leader of the New Zealand First Party.

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