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Want to study or work in the UK?

by Eddie Rayner

Test-takers in Middle East will now be able to take PTE for UK work and study visa applications

Pearson, the world’s learning company, announced it has been awarded commercial agreements from the UK Home Office to provide Secure English Language Tests (SELTs) to people who need to demonstrate their English language skills to work or live in the UK.

Running for a minimum of three years, the commercial agreements will be delivered through the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic and PTE Home – a new speaking and listening test for family visa, settlement and citizenship applicants. Both these English language tests have been internally developed by Pearson.

PTE Academic is one of the fastest growing products in Pearson and is a strategic growth priority for the company, posting 30% growth in test volumes last year.

The test is already accepted by:

  • 100% of Australian, New Zealand and Irish universities, 98% of UK universities, and more than 2,000 academic programmes in the USA
  • and the Australian and New Zealand governments for all visa applications

The fully digital test is delivered through Pearson VUE, the computer-based testing business of Pearson. The latest AI technology is used for scoring; biometric data collection provides enhanced security measures and voice recognition software is applied for the speaking element of the test. These cutting-edge technologies ensure the provision of an impartial and highly accurate test of people’s English language proficiency.

Furthermore, test takers can book online up to 24 hours in advance, take advantage of year-round worldwide testing slots and receive their results quickly – 1.2 days the average so far for 2019.

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK, said: “We are proud that the UK Government joins the Australian and New Zealand Governments in recognising this test for visa applications, alongside thousands of leading universities across the globe who already accept it for study purposes – including most UK universities.

“Alongside this, our new English language test PTE Home has also been accepted by the UK Government for those who need to prove their speaking and listening skills when applying for family visas, for instance.”

Commenting on this development, Majid Mneymneh, Vice President- Higher Education & Corporate, Pearson Middle East said, We at Pearson recognize that there is a huge demand for the students in Middle East to prove their English Language proficiency whether it is for higher studies or finding work. With UK Government recently reinstating the 2-year post-study work visa, the UK as the destination to study abroad has gained prominence in the region. PTE’s recognition for the UK is perfectly timed to provide fast, fair, accurate and flexible English assessment option to the learners in Middle East.”


The SELT tests are focused on immigration requirements and the details are as follows:

  • PTE Academic (UKVI) – a four skills language test accepted for work (and certain study) visas. It tests speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.
  • PTE Home – a two skills language test accepted for family, settlement or citizenship applications. It tests speaking and listening skills.


In Australia, where PTE Academic has been approved for visa applications since 2014, the number of visa applications approved last year for entry were above half a million.

Furthermore, to date, hundreds of thousands of SELTs have been taken each year by individuals seeking to apply for a visa to study, work, visit or join family in the UK, where evidence of English language ability at a specific level is required.

This represents an exciting opportunity for PTE Academic, which will start delivering these tests in early 2020 and will be one of four approved suppliers. PTE Academic currently has more than 250 test centres in over 50 countries, with its test centre network and global coverage due to rapidly expand to more than 110 countries during the early stages of the commercial agreements – and now including PTE Home.