The Home Office have recently come out about some mistakes and misjudgements on their part which resulted in are 34,000 foreign students being wrongly accused of cheating in an English Language test in 2015. This test was important to their status in the UK and as a result of these errors many of them have been removed from their studies, detained in removal centres, lost their jobs or ended up homeless, despite being in the country legally.
Sir Philip Rutnam, permanent secretary for the Home Office, has now admitted “real concern” that “hundreds of innocent individuals, possibly more” are continuing to maintain their innocence after being incorrectly judged.
He told the Public Accounts Committee that the Home Office was “paying close attention” to the issue and that Sajid Javid, the home secretary, was expected to make a statement on the issue before recess – almost two months after he pledged to do so.
Sir Philip has said: “We’ve recognised throughout there is a risk that some innocent people might be caught up in this but that the risk is numerically very small.”
He goes on to claim that it is possible for the accused to challenge the decision, but that it is up to them as individuals to ‘demonstrate their innocence’. This is viewed as quite a harsh statement by many people, seeing as the students did not do anything wrong.
In response, Ms Mahmood of the Labour party said: “The risk (of this happening) might have been small, but we are talking about human beings here, and the impact even if on a small number of people isn’t just a little bit bad but it’s pretty catastrophic. It’s not just really concerning, it’s shameful.”
She added: “Do you know how much it costs to go to court? They’re not all the children of billionaires or multimillionaires who have come to study in this country and put money into the coffers of our colleges and universities.”
The amount of people removed from the UK as a direct result of this scandal is around 2,500 and this number is expected to rise.
A total of 4,157 people accused of cheating had been granted leave to remain, with hundreds more still fighting legal battles, which cost a lot of money that many of them cannot afford to spend.
We will keep you posted on how this develops.