UK Border Agency approves Pearson Test of English Academic

Test achieves approval from UK Border Agency as standard of English language proficiency under Tier 4 of the Points Based System

London, UK (Vocus) July 22, 2010 — Pearson announced today that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has formally approved Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) as fully satisfying the Government’s criteria for English language proficiency tests for student visas under Tier 4 of the Points Based System.

Under the terms of the new legislation, foreign students applying to come to the UK under the Tier 4 (General) category for courses below degree level (except foundation degree courses) have to demonstrate that their level of English is up to a specific standard. This is equivalent to a score of 43 on the PTE Academic score scale.

One of the main areas of concern set out in the Home Office announcement in February 2010 was test security. To meet this concern, Pearson’s new test uses multiple layers of biometric and other cutting-edge technology. This process, which eliminates a paper trail and local marking, includes the capture of three types of biometrics (palm vein scanning, digital signatures and test day digital photographs of applicants) and an online verification database of candidate results and speech samples, to ensure the authenticity of both the individual taking the test and the results. Automated scoring further provides a secure, standardized assessment of language proficiency to make certain that subjective judgments do not come into play when assessing a candidate’s language abilities.

Emma Stubbs, Global Vice President, Sales and Marketing from Pearson Language Tests, explains: “The British Government wants language tests that are secure and rigorous enough to ensure the integrity of our immigration system. Pearson is using biometric technology to raise the bar and set a new standard in English language testing, as we believe the advantages offered by our test are of real benefit to students, institutions and governments. PTE Academic is already accepted for Tiers 1 and 2 of the Points Based System, and Pearson is extremely pleased to achieve approval for Tier 4.”

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About PTE Academic

PTE Academic is a computer-based test for non-native speakers of English who need to demonstrate their academic English capability – often so as to obtain places at English-speaking universities and business schools or as proof of their language ability for a visa application to the UK Border Agency.

The new test was launched in late 2009 by Pearson and has rapidly built up acceptance from the world’s renowned colleges, universities, training providers and student services across the English-speaking world. These include Harvard Business School, Yale University, Cornell University, Navitas English, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, INSEAD, UCAS, University of Edinburgh and other Russell Group universities and now includes high-level endorsement from the UKBA. PTE Academic is now formally accredited by OFQUAL.

More than 1,500 academic programmes now accept or are in the process of accepting PTE Academic scores. These 1,500 institutions/programmes represent more than 580,000 applications from international students annually, meaning that over half a million international students now have the option of taking PTE Academic. For a full list visit:

Endorsed by the prestigious Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®), owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®), the test is delivered on a ‘choose and book’ basis rather than on fixed dates, which can speed up the testing process for test takers. Test takers can schedule their appointment just 24 hours before their test and results are currently being delivered in just 2 business days. The test has been rapidly rolled-out worldwide and is already being delivered in Pearson’s network of test centres in territories including China, India, Japan, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Canada.

“PTE Academic is a great leap forward; it brings testing into the 21st century, in terms of both its multimodal approach and its many novel security features,” said Professor Geoffrey Pullum, FBA, Head of Linguistics and English Language, University of Edinburgh.

About Pearson International

Increased emphasis on knowledge as a major economic driver around the world means that education has risen up the political agenda. Governments, business and individuals now believe that a better educated population is the single most powerful way to unlock competitiveness, development and growth

As a result more time and money is being invested in education, more people are demanding to start and stay in school, college and university and subsequently more demand is being placed on better value and more measurable outputs from investment in education.

In addition the rise of English teaching as it becomes the first real global language of business, culture, sport and the internet presents us with new and exciting opportunities.

Technology, which has enhanced many parts of our lives, also offers the opportunity to transform education by making its delivery more personalised, efficient and effective, as well as making assessment more transparent, accurate and useful. Everyone wants more effective education delivering better results.

Pearson consists of three major worldwide businesses; Pearson Education, FT Group and Penguin. We operate in more than 60 countries with over 36,000 employees and our businesses respond to these growing demands.

Pearson Education is the world's leading education company, providing educational materials, technologies, assessments and related services to students of all ages and teachers. Every day Pearson Education’s products help people around the world to grow their knowledge, develop their skills and realise their potential.

We provide test development, processing and scoring services to educational institutions, corporations and professional bodies from around the world. We recently launched PTE Academic which will be delivered in up to 200 Pearson VUE testing centres in 44 countries and we received over 3.7 million registrations for vocational assessment and general qualifications in 2009.

We are a leading provider of educational materials and learning technologies including MyLabs, Poptropica, eCollege and Fronter and for more than 100 years we have provided teachers with the tools and materials they need to teach. We publish across the curriculum under a range of respected imprints including: Scott Foresman, Addison Wesley, Prentice Hall, Allyn & Bacon, Benjamin Cummings, PASeries, ELLis, Celebration Press, PEMSolutions, SuccessMaker, Waterford, and Family Education Network.

By combining content, assessment and technology we want to help more people make progress in their lives through education.

Media contacts

PLT media contact:
Fran Bayley, PLT
Tel: +44 (0) 845 543 0243