Irish vet’s English fails Australian computer visa test

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Louise Kennedy, a vet working in Queensland, applied for an Australian permanent residency visa

An Irish vet with two university degrees has been told by a computerised test that her spoken English is not good enough for an Australian visa.

Louise Kennedy, originally from County Wicklow, applied for permanent residency after two years in Australia.

She had been working as a vet in Queensland.

Ms Kennedy told the Irish Independent she thought there had been a mistake after she had failed the oral section of an English test.

“It was even such a pain to take the whole day off work to do the test and then be told I can’t speak English,” she said.

The mandatory test involved writing, reading and speaking, with the oral section scored by voice-recognition technology.

‘Possible interference’

Ms Kennedy, who is married to an Australian and expecting her first child, said the oral test involved reading a paragraph that appeared on screen and it was “very, very easy”.

However, she was told she had scored 74 points – below the 79 points required for a residency visa.

“I just thought (it was a mistake) and I’ll ring them up and they’ll listen to it again,” she said.

The vet said she believed the failure was caused by flaws in the voice-recognition technology.

The company that runs the test, Pearson, told the Australian Associated Press there were no problems with its system.

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

Ms Kennedy said she had been offered the chance to re-do the test free of charge due to “possible interference” caused by construction work outside the centre.

She also said she had begun the process of applying for a more expensive spouse visa as there may not be enough time for her to re-do the test and and receive a skilled immigrant visa before her skilled worker visa expired.

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