I normally try not to put too much politics into a language blog, but this time it definitely deserves it. I have never been a fan of privatising public infrastructure, as it typically shifts the burden of cost to those who can least afford it. This case is no exception.
I discovered through a news story shared on Facebook this morning that the UK's Home Office is changing the English language prerequisites for visas. Previously, the SQA (the public sector exam board for Scotland) had an ESOL qualification that was recognised by the Home Office, but this will be struck off the list, which will now consist only of two exams -- the big ones, the expensive ones: Cambridge and Trinity.
The site reporting it, having nationalist inclinations, chose to focus on the angle that Westminster was trying to undermine Scotland's education sector. As a left-leaning site, though, they failed to spot the bigger picture: this is about privatisation.
The current UK government is determined to dismantle whatever public infrastructure that remains to us, and leave the populace at the mercy of marketplace economics. (Which does make this a Westminster vs Holyrood issue, to an extent, as the Scottish Government is far less keen on privatisation.)
But anyone involved in the language teaching sector will know roughly how expensive the private sector exams are, and anyone teaching English in the UK will have seen firsthand how little their students can afford these tests.
Forcing more immigrants into expensive exams (which many criticise for not being a good measure of language ability anyway) is just making life harder for some of the most vulnerable members of our society, because make no mistake -- an immigrant is a member of our society, regardless of what the majority of politicians and newspapers tell us.