Foreign students falsely accused in UK test scandal to pitch TV drama on lines of 'Mr Bates...'

  • IANS
  • World News
Foreign students falsely accused in UK test scandal to pitch TV drama on lines of 'Mr Bates...'
Credit: © Reuters.

London, Feb 16 (IANS) Indians and several other international students unjustly accused of cheating in English language tests in the UK, are creating a television drama pitch on the lines of 'Mr Bates vs the Post Office', to highlight their struggles and seek justice in a decade-long unresolved issue. The recently released ITV (LON: ITV ) drama series showed how hundreds of Post Office employees fought back to clear their names after they were falsely prosecuted for theft and fraud because of faulty accounting software, forcing politicians to sit up and take notice.

The Home Office abruptly terminated the visas of 35,000 international students, making their stay in the country illegal overnight, after a 2014 BBC documentary reported allegations of cheating at two of the UK's language testing centres for overseas students.

While some 7,200 students left the country after detention threats, many stayed protesting "flawed evidence" as they struggled with homelessness, huge legal fees and stress-induced illnesses.

According to The Guardian, students from India, Pakistan and several other countries, met recently to begin chronicling their prolonged struggle in a final attempt to bring politicians' and the public's attention to the issue, which largely went unnoticed in the mainstream.

"If it takes a drama to make people understand, then we'll make a drama. We've been inspired by how people have responded to the Post Office drama, and there are so many parallels," Nazek Ramadan, Director of Migrant Voice, told the Daily.

The charity has been fighting for these students since 2017 and is now helping them to write their stories and has sought the advice of a film director, who previously showed interest in the charity's work.

"This is a huge injustice that most people still don't know about. Thousands of students, young men and women who came here in good faith, had their lives ruined. We want people to empathise and support them. What they went through must be documented," she told The Guardian.

Abdul Qadir Mohammad, 36, who left India in 2010 to study business in London, spent more than 20,000 pounds trying to clear his name in the scandal, pushing him and his family into debt.

He said he gets "panic attacks" and feels ashamed to face my family back home who ask him: "Abdul you have lived in the UK for 14 years. What have you achieved?"

According to the news report, 33-year-old Navjot Kaur, who came to Britain from Amritsar to study tourism management when she was 19, is looking forward to converting her experiences into drama.

"I had no need to cheat in the English test... This has ruined my life and my career," she said.

Meanwhile, fresh evidence has been presented in the court this month that questions the Home Office's move against the foreign students.

The students had also approached and presented a petition to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in March last year, seeking his help to clear their names.

In their petition to the Prime Minister, the students called for a simple, free mechanism to apply for a decision or reconsideration of their case.

--IANS

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