Vet fails oral English test de­spite de­grees

Bray People - - NEWS - By ES­THER HAY­DEN

A ROUND­WOOD vet’s Aus­tralian res­i­dency has been put at risk af­ter she was told that her oral English flu­ency was not up to scratch by an au­to­mated com­puter pro­gram.

Louise (Lucy) Kennedy (34), from Round­wood has been work­ing as an equine vet on the Sun­shine Coast in Queens­land.

De­spite be­ing a na­tive English speaker with two univer­sity de­grees the young pro­fes­sional was deemed in­suf­fi­cient in her na­tive tongue by an au­to­matic scor­ing sys­tem.

Lucy and hus­band Adam, an Aus­tralian, are ex­pect­ing their first baby in 12 weeks and the Irish woman de­cided to ap­ply for per­ma­nent res­i­dency, af­ter two years in the coun­try.

For a skilled im­mi­grant visa ap­pli­cants need to take an English pro­fi­ciency test.

‘I went with a com­pany called Pear­son be­cause they give you the most points,’ Lucy said.

Part of the test, the oral com­pe­tency sec­tion, in­volved read­ing a para­graph that ap­peared on-screen. But when she re­ceived her re­sults Lucy dis­cov­ered she has scored 74 points when the gov­ern­ment re­quires 79.

It was only the oral com­pe­tency sec­tion which was scored low.

‘I just thought [it was a mis­take] and I’ll just ring them up and they’ll just lis­ten to it again,’ she said.

How­ever, af­ter much back and forth with the com­pany, she was given the op­por­tu­nity to take the $300 (€200) test again, free of charge.

‘ That’s based on the fact that there was con­struc­tion work out­side of the test cen­tre at the time which could be a pos­si­ble in­ter­fer­ence,’ she said.

She is con­vinced that it is a tech­ni­cal flaw in the com­pany’s soft­ware that has caused her not to be recog­nised as a na­tive speaker. Other com­pa­nies use hu­man as­ses­sors.

‘It was very, very easy - a re­ally ba­sic para­graph,’ she said.

Asher hus­band is Aus­tralian Lucy has the op­tion of ap­ply­ing for a more ex­pen- sive spouse visa which she is now in the process of do­ing.

‘Be­cause I’m mar­ried to an Aussie I luck­ily have a back-up visa to go to but there is a $3,000 (€2,000) cost over the skilled im­mi­grant visa which we weren’t bank­ing on 12 weeks be­fore hav­ing our first baby,’ she said.

Time was also a fac­tor in try­ing to rec­tify her flu­ency test re­sults she said as her cur­rent visa would have ex­pired in the time-frame it would take for all of the pa­per­work to be com­pleted, even if she was recog­nised as a flu­ent English speaker by the test­ing com­pany.

She said the ex­pe­ri­ence was very stress­ful. ‘It was even such a pain to have to take the whole day of work to do and do the test and then be told I can’t speak English,’ she said.

Lucy, who works with a mo­bile equine unit be­tween north Bris­bane and the Sun­shine Coast, holds two de­grees; a BA in pol­i­tics and his­tory from UCD and a doc­tor of vet­eri­nary medicine is from the fac­ulty of Vet­eri­nary Sci­ence, Bu­dapest.

Ms Kennedy is con­vinced the PTE tech­nol­ogy is flawed.

‘ There’s ob­vi­ously a flaw in their com­puter soft­ware, when a per­son with per­fect oral flu­ency can­not get enough points,’ she said.

Pear­son, the com­pany run­ning the test, told Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press that there was noth­ing wrong with their sys­tems or the scor­ing of test scores.

Sasha Hamp­son, the head of English for Pear­son Asia Pa­cific, said that the im­mi­gra­tion de­part­ment set the bar very high for peo­ple seek­ing per­ma­nent res­i­dency.

Lucy Kennedy from Round­woos, who now lives in Aus­tralia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.