Monday, October 8, 2018

IELTS bends over for China

Another day, another money-making entity kowtowing to China. This time the culprit is IELTS, the international English proficiency test that is the exam of standard for those hoping to study in the UK, Australia and several other countries (most of Europe if English is the required language, Canada, New Zealand - many, if not most, American universities accept it as well).

This makes no sense to me. Sure, China is a huge market for IELTS, but China needs IELTS as much as IELTS needs China. Chinese students and others hoping to move abroad need to take IELTS to make it happen, period. An innocent reading of this would be that many Chinese want to study abroad, and everyone - including the government - welcomes these international connections. A more sinister one is that China can more effectively expand its United Front operations abroad if it has a large contingent of Chinese abroad to facilitate that, including students. Most of those students would have to take IELTS.

So - unlike with airlines - this just doesn't make sense. IELTS could have told China to suck an egg and I don't see that China would have had a choice. Why didn't they? The only answer I can come up with is cowardice.

In my dreams, every IELTS examiner in Taiwan (or enough of them to make an impact) goes on 'strike'. They refuse to examine, or examine only at the bare minimum to keep their certifications, causing a severe examiner shortage that the IELTS head office will have to deal with. They don't budge until Taiwan is called 'Taiwan' again.

In reality, I know how unlikely that is to actually happen.

Here's a ray of good news, if you are an IELTS examiner who is angry about this change. If you don't want to refuse to examine - though come on, do ol' Lao Ren Cha a solid and refuse to examine! Make the consequences real! -  it is possible to get in touch with the IELTS head office. Ask your employer in Taiwan (so that would be either British Council or IDP) for the correct contact information and encourage them to complain in an official capacity, as well. Don't just leave this to the Taiwanese government. Then write to them.

It's not much, but it's better than trolling Air Canada for kicks (though by all means, do that too). Someone might actually read your letter and then politely respond to you with some British blather that translates to "we don't care", but it's something.

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