Students seeking an English language qualification as part of their UK citizenship application will have fewer choices from November, when new Government regulations come into force.
It means people seeking to settle in the UK from overseas whose first language is not English will no longer be able to use qualifications such as English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) to prove their competency in the language.
As part of the crackdown, which is designed to reduce fraud, the number of centres able to offer the tests required by the Government has been reduced. The new approved provider is a consortium made up from the British Council, Trinity College London, Cambridge English Language Assessment and IELTS Australia. Only Cambridge English Language Assessment and Trinity College London will be recognised as awarding bodies.
In Scotland, only two centres have been approved as test centres: Trinity Glasgow SELT Centre and the British Council in Edinburgh. The reduction is causing concern north of the Border because of the distances people will be required to travel.
SNP MP Ian Blackford said people living in his constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber could face a 13-hour round trip, two days off work and having to stay overnight in order to be tested at the approved centre. He said it was “shameful” and “outrageous”.
Mr Blackford told the Aberdeen Press & Journal: “It’s unacceptable people who are here to stay and make a contribution to the Scottish economy and to Scottish life are faced with this.”
The new rules will apply to those seeking citizenship unless they have a degree that taught or researched in English. People who have passed the test before April 5 this year at a previously approved centre will be allowed to use that qualification in a citizenship application up until November 5 2015.