Standardized English proficiency tests are needed for specific purposes, for which the new Russian test is unlikely to be accredited.
On March 10, the Educational Testing Service Foundation, which organizes the TOEFL English proficiency test, announced its withdrawal from Russia. Soon, already on March 21, the IELTS language centers, which conduct a similar exam, suspended their work. These tests are extremely important as they measure English language skills on a standardized scale from A1 to C2.
A test result with a score of at least a certain level is needed, for example, to enter a foreign university, obtain a work permit, visa or employment abroad. In Russia, there are no points left for passing these exams, and now, for this, Russians are forced to fly to Armenia, Azerbaijan or Turkey, pay for the flight, accommodation and the exam itself.
The Higher School of Economics is trying to solve this problem. HSE has developed an analogue of IELTS and TOEFL exams, which everyone will be able to pass, and the results of which will be recognized abroad (primarily universities). The idea, at first glance, looks good – so the Russians would be less dependent on Western organizations, and they would also pay less for the test and in rubles.
They promise to simplify the procedure itself – in particular, by taking it online using the proctoring system (a moderator monitors the person taking the test via video link).
However, experts warn that even if there are no serious problems with the new test, it will not be possible to use it for the stated purposes soon:
- accreditation of the test in foreign universities may take years. Each university will check the terms of delivery, methodology and other features – in the current conditions, such an exchange is even difficult to imagine;
- requirements of other countries for the test for visa applicants are also very strict – for example, the UK requires that it be exclusively a subspecies of Academic IELTS UKVI. And Australia from tests recognizes only IELTS.
In theory, we can talk about the recognition of test results with other universities – usually large universities can have 50-100 such agreements, with universities from different countries. But it is not yet necessary to talk about international recognition for the Russian test, experts say.
The HSE promises that the level of tests will comply with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The specific timing of the launch of the test, the conditions for its delivery and the cost of the procedure have not yet been reported.