Elevating the Integrity of Admissions
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences is no longer accepting the at-home version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The move is in response to strong indications of academic fraud. Specifically, there is evidence that certain candidates are either not taking these exams themselves, or are otherwise cheating while taking the tests. Instead, Wittenborg's Admissions Team is opting for more robust metrics for prospective students. The TOEFL certificate will still be accepted if the test is taken on-site, however.
The TOEFL Home Edition is a language test that is verifiable online, which takes stock of a candidate's English language skills. A certificate demonstrating competence in the English language is a general requirement for those arriving from places where English may not be their mother tongue. The test covers four different areas of language: writing, listening, reading and speaking. Each section is worth a maximum of 30 points.
In recent months, Wittenborg's Admissions Team has observed a pattern where prospective students will achieve excellent scores in three of these areas such as writing, listening and reading. However, they may end up scoring very poorly during the speaking portion. In the past, the Admissions Team observed that for most students who demonstrate higher quality English language skills, the score for individual sections of the test are generally not very far apart. Therefore, when students score very high in certain areas of the TOEFL but extremely low in just one area, it is regarded as a red flag.
The general response to this is to conduct further interviews with the candidate to gain a better understanding of the situation. Further, the Admissions Team has come up with other ways to properly assess the prospective student, such as with small, on-the-spot writing tasks. Regrettably, there have been many occasions where the level of English demonstrated during the on-the-spot assessments and subsequent interviews do not reflect the level of English demonstrated by the TOEFL scores. To compound this, there have been occasions where students have seemed to be entirely different candidates than the person who actually took the TOEFL, based on profile features.
The scrapping of the TOEFL Home Edition will raise the quality of education at Wittenborg. This move will limit the potential for academic fraud, as well as lower the risk of a candidate entering a programme they are unable to survive. The TOEFL Home Edition was temporarily accepted into the Code of Conduct as a short-term answer for students who could not take an on-site exam due to COVID-19-related restrictions. Yet, this temporary flexibility in the expansion of the TOEFL is being exploited by those looking for easier pathways into higher education.
As most restrictions in many countries have been lifted, Wittenborg judges that prospective students should have sufficient means to take exams at testing centres once again. Despite this, Wittenborg understands that students in certain regions, such as Ukraine or Russia, may encounter obstacles to taking the TOEFL or other language exams in-person. Those experiencing these problems are urged to contact the Admissions Team at email@example.com for individual help in obtaining a certificate of English language.
by Olivia Nelson