migrantvoice
Speaking for Ourselves

Home Office scraps proposed scheme to help innocent international students

Home Office scraps proposed scheme to help innocent international students

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 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Home Office scraps proposed scheme to help innocent international students

In early October, Stephen Timms MP received a letter from Immigration Minister Seema Kennedy regarding the tens of thousands of international students wrongly accused of cheating on an English test by the Home Office in 2014. Migrant Voice has been campaigning alongside the students on this issue for two years, and pressure from the 'My Future Back' campaign and from supportive MPs has led to extensive media coverage, damning reports by the National Audit Office, APPG on TOEIC and the Public Accounts Committee. The campaign also helped to signficantly shift the Government's position on the matter, with former Home Secretary Sajid Javid admitting in July that they had a "duty" to do more to help innocent students.

Stephen Timms raised the matter with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his first day in office in July and had been promised a letter to explain the Government's position on the issue. The Prime Minister asked the Immigration Minister to write to Stephen Timms on his behalf.

You can read the full letter here.

Frustratingly, the letter explained that a proposal by the former Home Secretary for a bespoke scheme that would allow students to have their cases reviewed had now been scrapped - and no new scheme or resolution was being offered in its place.

Seema Kennedy invited Stephen Timms to meet with her to discuss the matter further. Accordingly, on Monday 21 October, the two politicians met, along with two of the international students affected by the wrongful allegations, who have been living in desperate limbo for more than five years. The Immigration Minister seemed sympathetic to the situation, but no firm ideas for a much needed resolution were proposed.

Our statement on this development:

"While we’re delighted that two of the thousands of international students wrongly accused of cheating by the Home Office finally had the chance to speak directly with the Immigration Minister yesterday, we are deeply disappointed that this Government is refusing to offer any kind of solution for these students.

"Report after report has condemned the Government’s handling of this issue, with the latest by the Public Accounts Committee describing the Home Office’s behaviour as ‘shameful’. The former Home Secretary seemed to eventually admit some wrongdoing and said his Department had a ‘duty’ to do more to help innocent students – a welcome step for them after five years of misery.

"Yet the new Home Secretary has scrapped the plan for a scheme that would have allowed students to have their cases reviewed – a proposal that had finally kindled some hope for those people wrongly accused and living in desperate limbo. Neither she nor the Immigration Minister have offered anything to replace that scheme, apparently convinced that this staggering injustice will go away on its own.

"But the Government cannot evade this forever. We, the students and their advocates in Parliament, including the indefatigable Stephen Timms, will not rest until justice is done and these students get their futures back."

Read more about the campaign and how you can support it here.