Fraudulent OET Passages: Kerala Nurses in UK Under Scrutiny” is it works

Exposing the Scheme: Money-driven Tactics in English Qualification Test

London: Last November, Kerala was shaken by the news of a baby’s abduction from Kollam. However, the state faced an even bigger shock when allegations pointed to a lobby involved in OET examination Scam. Or cheating on foreign qualification exams for nurses that were behind the incident. At first, the police doubted the baby’s father’s involvement in nurse recruitment scams. But nursing organization officials defended the allegation. This caused the allegation to collapse without a proper investigation. Just before the Kollam abduction, the operator of an exam center in Thrissur was kidnapped. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of 2.5 crore rupees.

Implications and Investigations:

Nevertheless, over the past few months, allegations of fraud in the Occupational English Test (OET) gained momentum. The OET is an eligibility test for nurses seeking jobs abroad. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the UK’s regulatory agency, has asked hundreds of Malayali nurses suspected of cheating to provide explanations. If the allegations are proven true, these nurses who obtained their qualifications illegally may lose their jobs and face deportation from the UK.

However, there are signs that the NMC may already be taking a more sympathetic approach towards nurses in the UK. If they pass the OET, the NMC may allow them to retake it and remain in the country.

Not only Nigerians but also Malayalis have used illicit means to pass the exam. After allegations of question paper leaks surfaced, the NMC placed approximately 500 Nigerian nurses under surveillance. The NMC directed all hospitals to conduct extensive investigations into the qualifications of Nigerian nurses who had arrived in the UK in recent years. A few months later, the influx of Nigerian nurses into the UK slowed significantly.

There are strong allegations that many Malayali nurses have also obtained their qualifications through fraud. They may face similar legal measures as their Nigerian counterparts. This situation could seriously impact the recruitment of nurses from Kerala to the UK.

OET Exam Scandal: Kerala Nurses Caught in the Crosshairs

Initially, 150 Malayali nurses were identified as potentially implicated. However, recent information suggests that the actual number may be more than double. After receiving letters from the NMC, panicked nurses contacted the agency facilitating their OET exams. The agency has now arranged legal assistance in Britain. They want to keep crores of rupees invested in this arrangement. As a result, they are advising nurses to refrain from responding to the NMC’s emails.

A key question the NMC will raise is why these Malayali nurses traveled over 2,000 miles to take the OET exam in Chandigarh. There are exam centers in Kerala. Furthermore, the NMC may find it suspicious that exam fees for all these nurses were paid using the credit card of the Chandigarh test center owner. This is a practice that should be followed at other centers. The NMC sees this as part of a system ripe for malpractice. Reports indicate that nurses registered with an Alappuzha-based OET training institute flew to Chandigarh to take the leaked exams.

Challenges Facing the Legacy of Malayali Nurses in the UK

For decades, Malayali nurses have been seen as smart and hardworking. This paved the way for thousands to find employment in the UK. However, the positive brand image cultivated by earlier generations of Malayali nurses is now crumbling. The NMC’s stance is that each trust can decide how to proceed. But if a negative perception of Malayali nurses takes hold in public view, future recruitment prospects may suffer.

If news of the OET exam irregularities reaches the British media, those who once praised Malayali nurses as brilliant may mock them and call them plagiarists who took shortcuts. This could give ammunition to those opposing foreign recruitment to criticize the government.

The OET exam scam appears to have been orchestrated similarly to the UK visa scam. It reached its peak two years ago. While the candidate pays only Rs. 10,000 for the OET exam, reports suggest some paid up to 15 lakhs for leaked questions. Once the exams were held, hundreds of crores of rupees were lost in Kerala alone. However, the flow has slowed recently as recruitment to countries like the UK has slowed. This has reduced the demand for leaked papers.

The usual response is to shut down agencies facilitating question paper leaks. Therefore, it remains to be seen what will happen to the Kerala agency that sent candidates to Chandigarh for the compromised exams.

Alok Verma

Alok Verma is an accomplished International Reporter at IndiaFocus with a deep-seated passion for global affairs and cross-border stories. With an impressive track record in international journalism, Alok is dedicated… More »

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