As we wrap up 2023, we present our last News Tracker of the year. This edition is packed with insights and updates from the IELTS world, reflecting on the developments in both IELTS and migration, since we left you in November.
The Latest IELTS News
We’ve had some interesting IELTS developments in the past 30 days. With new research around how AI-marked English exams are actually biased! As well as the news that New Zealand is now adopting the One Skill Retake option in their migration policy.
MIT Research Shows AI-Marked English Tests Are Unfair
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been one of the most discussed topics in the world this year. Many people around the world have wondered whether AI could replace their jobs, and IELTS examiners have been no exception.
However, research from MIT has now raised concerns about inherent biases in AI systems. These biases stem from the training data used for AI, which might not adequately represent the diversity of English language speakers worldwide. Instances of native English speakers, even English teachers, failing AI-marked tests due to accent recognition issues have sparked a debate on the fairness of AI in high-stakes language assessments.
The MIT research also found that understanding the different contexts of the English Language is another area where AI-marked tests will not be anywhere near accurate enough. Things like slang, jokes and emotional cues, which a human examiner would be able to comprehend, AI fails to understand.
Given these revelations, the value of tests like IELTS, administered and marked by humans, becomes clear. Both the Writing and Speaking sections of the IELTS exam are assessed with 100% human marking, making IELTS the fairest way to evaluate your English Language proficiency.
For help in making sure you ace every aspect of the IELTS exam, you can book a lesson with an experienced IELTS tutor here.
New Zealand Adopts One Skill Retake In Migration Bill (OSR)
Following the lead of the UK and Australia, New Zealand has now incorporated the IELTS One Skill Retake into its migration policies. OSR is something we have spoken about a couple of times this year, it allows test takers who fall just short of their target scores in Listening, Reading, Writing, or Speaking to retake only the specific skill where they need improvement. This then helps candidates save time, money and stress from having to resit the whole exam each time.
Education and Immigration New Zealand have now recognised how useful OSR can be in ensuring that migration applications are processed more efficiently and that the country will not have to wait for certain candidates to resit the entire IELTS exam before they plug an important gap in the country’s labour market.
International Migration News
Regularly checking migration news is a routine for numerous IELTS test-takers. Below, we have summarised some of the key developments in migration from the last 30 days.
UK Raises Skilled Worker Minimum Salary Threshold
The UK government has recently announced a series of significant immigration measures, one of which is a sharp rise in the minimum salary threshold for skilled worker visa applications.
Overseas skilled workers previously had to be taking up a UK job with a minimum salary of £26,200 per annum. However, the announcement by the UK Home Secretary last week has put this up to £38,700. While this has been done as part of the UK government’s somewhat harsher stance on migration, it is expected to leave many key sectors in the country understaffed.
For IELTS candidates, these changes show the importance of not only achieving language proficiency but also considering the broader economic requirements for UK migration. The heightened salary thresholds mean that securing a high-skilled, well-paying job becomes more crucial than ever for those aspiring to migrate to the UK.
We’ll see you in January 2024!