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Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Page: 4217

International English Language Testing Systems

(Question No. 891)


Ms Gambaro asked the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, in writing, on 28 February 2012:

(1) In respect of the requirement for applicants of certain subclass visas to complete the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), what identity checks or verification evidence does his department require from the agencies contracted to conduct the IELTS tests, to ensure that the actual applicant is the person sitting the test.

(2) How many times has a visa applicant been asked to provide evidence to refute his department's suspicion that their IELTS certificate was fraudulent.

(3) How many visa applications have been refused because the IELTS certificate provided by the applicant was fraudulent.

(4) How many facial image comparison specialists does his department employ.

(5) What proportion (as a percentage) of visa applications that were refused by his department because the IELTS certificate provided by the applicant was fraudulent, has been overturned by the Migration Review Tribunal.


Mr Bowen: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) To ensure the integrity of our migration and visa systems the department takes any allegation of migration fraud very seriously. The integrity of English language testing across program areas is important as English language results are a key component in certain visa application requirements.

IELTS is an independent commercial enterprise and the department does not have a contract with IELTS or any agency contracted to conduct the IELTS test. Issues relating to identity/verification checks undertaken as part of IELTS testing are a matter for IDP International as administrators of the IELTS test.

A Deed of Agreement for the provision of access to online test score verification services exists between the DIAC and IDP International English Language Test System (IELTS) Pty Ltd for the provision of English language test results for Student visa purposes. This agreement describes intellectual property rights, security arrangements, protection of personal information and described required services to enable the department to verify IELTS test score results.

The Deed of Agreement also includes a number of integrity standards that IELTS is expected to conform to, including measures to minimise the risk of identity substitution and ensure appropriate document fraud prevention measures are in place.

The department works closely with IDP International to ensure we are promptly notified of all fraud attempts and detection in relation to the IELTS test, and takes action as appropriate.

Specification of English language tests accepted for the purposes of Australian visas is at the sole discretion of the Minister for Immigration of Citizenship. English language test providers are aware that their specification may be reviewed should they be found not to have robust practices in place to identify and address possible instances of fraud.

(2) The department does not maintain statistical information at this level therefore is unable to provide this information.

(3) The department does not maintain statistical information at this level therefore is unable to provide this information.

(4) The department currently employs five facial image comparison specialists. In addition to the facial image comparison specialists, the department is developing four staff in-house as facial image comparison trainees.

(5) The Migration Review Tribunal does not maintain statistical information at this level therefore is unable to provide this information.