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Highly-skilled Greek nurse with excellent spoken English denied right to work in Britain

English test proposed to be implemented for Australian citizenship under fire

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Foteini Kourakou Photo: Hugh Russell/The Irish News

18 August 2017

While Australia suggests citizenship applicants sit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, UK's example is proof of how failed this approach could be.

Highly-skilled Greek nurse Foteini Kourakou, a 27-year-old University of Athens graduate with excellent spoken English that moved to Northern Ireland to be with her boyfriend last September is not allowed in a hospital in Northern Ireland for narrowly failing her IELTS test five times.

The woman is now "completely demoralised" after having paid thousands of pounds in fees and tutoring yet she keeps failing the essay component that includes writing about obscure subjects such as local road tolls and whether art can be "created by everyone", The Irish News reports - a component even Northern Ireland citizens find it hard to comprehend.

Having worked in an intensive care unit in Greece for three years, she is studying for a Masters degree in nursing while working as a care assistant in a nursing home in County Antrim for the past year.

Her scores in her last exam were 8.5 for listening, 8 for reading, 7.5 for speaking and 6.5 in the writing element. In the Republic of Ireland, an overall average of 7 is required to gain registration and applicants are allowed to score 6.5 in one of the four components.

"If I don't pass this time I am going to take a break as it is taking such a toll on me emotionally. I get really nervous and it's getting worse. There is also the cost," Kourakou said.

"I would like to work in an ICU in Northern Ireland but if I don't pass I will continue to work in the care home. Nursing is all I've ever wanted to do, I love my job. It just doesn't make any sense why they are making it so difficult with these essay questions when they need nurses so badly."

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The unfair Academic International Language Testing system(IELTS) is responsible for a drop of 96% in EU/EEA nurses registration to the Nursing Midwifery Council UK (NMC). Help us raise the issue by signing and sharing the ePetition: https://www.change.org/p/nmc-uk-reduce-ielts-score-for-eu-eea-overseas-trained-nurses-registration-ieltsnmc?source_location=minibar. Foteini Kourakou, the NHS needs your skills! Follow our campaign on twitter by using #IELTSNMC

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