17 December 2022 17:01:57 IST

‘Strict action against cheating on the GRE’

Alberto Acereda, Associate Vice-President, Global Higher Education, ETS

ETS, which owns TOEFL and GRE, the two renowned examinations taken by study abroad aspirants, is investing “tens of millions of dollars in security” as it looks to tackle instances of cheating in exams, says Alberto Acereda, Associate Vice-President, Global Higher Education, ETS.

According to him, the assessment company saw that there was a three per cent overall growth in India; and immediately after that, in 2021-22, there was a 68 per cent growth in the number of test takers. In an interview with bloncampus, Acereda speaks about steps to tackle incidents of cheating and growth plans. Edited excerpts:

How has GRE General Test numbers been in India post-Covid?
After Covid we saw that there was a three percent overall growth in India; and immediately after that, in 2021-22, we saw a 68 per cent growth. I think, that the growth is also because students here find GRE as a passport to study abroad.
And if you ask me as to why GRE is more popular over other tests, then I believe, our assessment scores allow students to have the option of choosing different types of institutions and different programs. So GRE allows them to pursue different streams whether it is engineering, business schools (business management),chemistry or others.
How many programmes are you currently running in India?
We have about 100 programmes in India that accept GRE scores. We are trying to double down and grow on that; so we expect about a 50 per cent increase next year. For that, we have launched the Business Schools Advisory Council in India — a country-specific initiative. The ETS office here is also being expanded as we want to reach out to a larger number of institutes.
Beyond management, which other streams are popular?
Mostly MPhils, followed by technology and engineering. And the countries Indian students prefer to go include the US — which tops the list. This is followed by Canada and the UK and Australia. There has been some growth in the UK numbers, mainly because of the increase in business management students.
Do you see interest among foreign students to come and study in Indian institutes?
Yes we do. India’s National Education Policy is getting the attention of other countries with students looking for different opportunities. India is an emerging country and also tech-oriented, so students do want to come here.
The demand is for business schools and students are coming in mainly from the neighboring Asian countries.
There is still a long way to go, but we are hoping that Indian institutions can position themselves as a top destination by actually putting in the required tools that are known globally like the GRE or TOEFL.
There have been complaints of cheating in the case of home tests. How are you tackling that?
The at-home solution is the regular test that you take at the test centre. So the issue is not the quality of the test. Rather the issue is when you are not taking the test at a centre, in presence of a person or invigilator, some people have taken the route of not following the law.
There are promotions in India, particularly in some states, which facilitate such cheating.
So what ETS did was, it invested in people, because we wanted more experts who can securely administer the tests. And then, we hired a lot of security professionals. We also have been investing more heavily in technology controls to mitigate the risk of cheating. We brought in Artificial Intelligence, environment scans, face detection, ID verifications, biometrics, and so on. We have invested tens of millions of dollars in security, not just in technology but also in people.
We have and will continue to stop sending scores to universities for candidates that have been caught cheating. The message to students is clear, if you cheat, you will not be getting your scores. We are working with universities on this too.