Duolingo entry tests linked to Academic misconduct and poor student performance in UK universities

Duolingo entry tests linked to Academic misconduct and poor student performance in UK universities
Published abril 10, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education in many ways, including university admissions. As in-person test centres were forced to close, UK universities started adopting online language tests to assess the English language skills of potential international students. One of the most popular tests was the Duolingo English Test, which markets itself as a cheap, quick and convenient alternative to traditional proficiency tests. However, concerns have been raised about the accuracy and reliability of online language tests, particularly concerning academic misconduct and poor student performance.

Impact on Academic Integrity and Performance

According to the I news website, some foreign students who were admitted to UK universities using Duolingo tests were performing worse than their peers. This has led to concerns about the suitability of some new language tests for assessing language proficiency and their impact on academic integrity and performance. Professor John Heathershaw from the University of Exeter has linked the acceptance of tests like Duolingo to lower English language standards and described it as a "major issue". He also stated that students with weaker English language skills tend to plagiarise more often.

"I am an academic conduct officer at my institution and one of the types of students who tend to plagiarise are those with weaker English language skills. There is definitely a correlation there."

Professor John Heathershaw, University of Exeter

Impact on the Recruitment Market and University Admissions Process

The impact of language testing on the recruitment market and university admissions process cannot be overstated. International students are a significant source of revenue for UK universities, and many institutions rely on them to maintain their financial sustainability. However, having to submit a language test can deter potential students from applying, particularly if they are concerned about the difficulty or cost of the tests. This can lead to a decline in applications, affecting the diversity and quality of the student body.

In addition, language tests can also affect the job market. Language proficiency is an important factor for employers recruiting international students, and unreliable language tests can affect the perceived value of UK degrees. Graduates could then find it difficult to compete in the global job market, which could affect their career prospects and potential earnings. 


To address these challenges, universities have always had to adopt robust admissions processes that accurately assess the language skills of prospective international students. This should involve a combination of traditional proficiency tests and online language tests, with a focus on the accuracy, reliability and reputation of the assessments. It may also involve providing additional support and resources for international students, such as language classes and academic writing workshops.

Universities need to be transparent about their admissions processes and the limitations of some language tests. This includes providing information about the accuracy and reliability of the tests, as well as the depth in which they test a candidate's linguistic skills. By using reliable testing systems, they will then minimize the potential risks of academic misconduct and poor student performance. This can help to build trust and confidence among potential students, ensuring that they are making an informed decision when choosing a university.

The Future of Online Language Tests

The use of online language tests is likely to become more common in the future, particularly as universities, and candidates, look for more cost-effective and convenient ways to assess language proficiency. However, it is important to openly address concerns around the accuracy and reliability of these tests, particularly as regards academic integrity and student performance. This may involve working with test providers to improve the quality of the assessments and ensuring that universities have the necessary support and resources to provide accurate and reliable results.

Furthermore, online language tests should not be seen as a replacement for traditional proficiency tests, but rather as a complementary tool. Universities should continue to offer a range of assessment options, including in-person and online tests, to ensure that prospective international students have access to the best possible resources and support.

The use of quick-access online language tests for university admissions presents a significant challenge for higher education institutions. While they offer a convenient and cost-effective way to assess language proficiency, they may not be as accurate or reliable as traditional proficiency tests. Moreover, they may lead to academic misconduct and poor student performance, as well as affect the recruitment market and the perceived value of a UK degree. To address these challenges, universities need to adopt robust admissions processes that accurately assess the language skills of prospective international students and provide additional support and resources. Both universities and exam providers also need to be transparent about the limitations of online language tests and the potential risks of academic misconduct and poor student performance.

Ultimately, the goal of university admissions is to ensure that students have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their academic and professional pursuits. By adopting a holistic approach to language proficiency assessment, universities can help to ensure that all students, regardless of their background or circumstances, have access to the best possible education and support.

Source: inews.co.uk

#DuolingoEnglishTest #UKuniversities #onlinelearning #languageassessment #academicintegrity #studentperformance #COVID19education #universityadmissions #Englishlanguage #proficiencytests #academicmisconduct #internationalstudents #plagiarism #recruitmentmarket #financialsustainability #diversity #qualityeducation #globaljobmarket #careerprospects #admissionsprocesses #transparency #support #resources #highereducation #languageproficiency #complementarytool #educationgoals
Give us your feedback

Related news

Beyond the Dictionary: Exploring the Untranslatable Words of English

Language is one of the most powerful tools we have for communication and expression, allowing us to convey complex thoughts and emotions with just a few words. However, even the most comprehensive dictionaries fall short when it comes to capturing the full range of human experience.
Student news

Top 10 Films for Kids to Improve their English

In a world where English is a universal language, mastering it from a young age can open doors to numerous opportunities. Films can be a rich source of language learning and offer a fun and engaging way to enhance linguistic skills. They introduce children to new words, phrases, and proper sentence structures while providing a context that aids in understanding their usage. They also offer a glimpse into various cultures, encouraging young minds to develop empathy and understanding. Here, we have curated a list of the top 10 films that can help kids improve their English proficiency while being thoroughly entertained.
Student news

Unveiling the Importance of IELTS for Global Opportunities

Language bridges cultures, unites communities, and serves as a universal medium for expressing ideas. The English language, in particular, has emerged as a lingua franca, dominating international communication. Consequently, demonstrating English proficiency has become paramount in accessing global opportunities. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a widely recognised certification that serves this purpose. This post offers an in-depth understanding of IELTS and its importance in today's globalised context.
Student news

Empowering INOV Contacto Candidates with Cambridge English Solutions

In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to navigate different cultures and languages is more important than ever. This is particularly true in the realm of business, where international experience can open doors to new opportunities and career advancement. The ability to communicate effectively in English, the lingua franca of the global business world, is often a key requirement for these opportunities. Recognising this, the INOV Contacto programme, an initiative by AICEP Portugal Global, offers young graduates and professionals a unique opportunity to gain international experience and enhance their English language skills.
Student news

A Century-Long Journey: Celebrating 110 years of Cambridge English Exams

This month we commemorate an extraordinary milestone - 110 years of Cambridge English exams. Cambridge University Press & Assessment, have been looking through their historical records to provide a fascinating glimpse into the journey of English language learning and teaching with Cambridge.
Student news

Unconventional Ways to Improve Your English: Using TV Shows and Movies

Are you looking for an unconventional way to improve your English language skills? Look no further than your television screen. TV shows and movies can provide a fun and engaging way to enhance your proficiency in English. In this article, we will explore how you can use this method to your advantage and provide some tips on how to make the most of your viewing experience.
Student news

Unlocking Success - The Power of Linguaskill Cambridge Exam in Assessing English Language Proficiency

As the global marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, companies must seek out the best and brightest talent to stay ahead of the curve. When it comes to assessing the language proficiency of job candidates, Linguaskill Cambridge Exam is the gold standard. Like a trusted guide, Linguaskill leads recruiters on a journey to uncover the true language proficiency of their candidates and unlock their potential for success.
Student news

Read more news articles


We use cookies for a better experience and personalised ads based on your activity. Click 'Manage Cookies' to change preferences.

Privacy Policy
Manage Cookies

Manage Cookies preferences

Most websites use cookies. Cookies are small text files that are placed on your device to store data that web servers can later use. English Exam Center and its external partners use cookies to remember your preferences and settings, help you log in, show you personalized advertisements and analyze how our websites work. For more information, see the Cookies section of the Privacy Policy


We use cookies necessary to perform the essential functions of the websites. For example, they are used to log in, save your language preferences, provide a shopping cart experience, improve performance, route traffic between web servers, detect screen size, determine page load times, improve user experience and audience measurement. These cookies are necessary for our websites to function.


Functional cookies help perform certain functionalities like sharing the content of the website on social media platforms, collecting feedback, and other third-party features.


Security cookies help perform certain operations in safety. With these, we can ensure data is securely transmitted, detect and prevent malicious, fraudulent, invalid, or illegal activity, ensure correct and efficient operation of systems and processes, including to monitor and enhance the performance of systems and processes engaged in permitted purposes.


We allow third parties to use analytics cookies to understand how you use our sites in order to improve them. These third parties may develop and improve their products, which they may use on websites that we do not own or operate. For example, they are used to collect information about the pages you visit and how many clicks are needed to perform a task. We use some analytics cookies for advertising purposes.

Social media

We, together with third parties, use social media cookies to show you ads and content based on your social media profiles and activity on our websites. These cookies are used to link your activity on our websites to your social media profiles, so that the advertisements and content you see on our websites and on social media better reflect your interests.


We use, together with third parties, advertising and marketing cookies to show you new advertisements by recording the advertisements you have already seen. They are also used to track which ads you click on or purchases you make after clicking on an ad for payment purposes and to show you ads that are more relevant to you. For example, they are used to detect when you click on an ad and show you ads based on your interests on social networks and your browsing history on websites.

Reset all
Save changes
Accept all
Reject all

Subscribe to our newsletter