IELTS Academic Reading practice test: multiple choice questions

IELTS Academic Reading Multiple Choice questions: Who is IDP Australia, IELTS Australia, British Council and Cambridge ESOL?

The text is an adapted excerpt from 'House of Representatives: Inquiry into Registration Processes and Support for Overseas Trained Doctors' by Michael Suss.

Check one answer, unless instructed otherwise.

Who is lOP Australia, IELTS Australia, British Council and Cambridge ESOL?

Most organisations and individuals believe that the IELTS test is owned and operated in Australia by a non-profit organisation, either IELTS Australia or IDP Australia. People are surprised to discover
that Australian universities, that insist on IELTS test scores for admission by international students, also indirectly own the test through a fifty per cent shareholding in IDP Australia. Most of these universities also offer a fee-for-service for training courses for the IELTS test. IELTS Australia is owned, in turn, by IDP Australia, which is a 50:50 partnership with the listed company, Seek Ltd. IDP Australia is rather coy about publicly mentioning their commercial partner at all, or if they do, they refer to their partner as an on-line recruitment organisation.

Many candidates for the IELTS test and OET believe that if they enrol in, and pay substantial fees for a training course offered by the same organisation who delivers the test, they will have a good chance being successful in the test. The narrative by the first OTD explains how shocked he was to fail.

How many AHPRA National Boards are aware of the commercial background of the IELTS testing system? Would they continue to trust the IELTS tests now that they know who really owns the testing system in Australia and that the IELTS tests are a commercial business? In a recent letter, their total ownership was not even mentioned, when they wrote:

'IELTS is jointly developed, managed and administered by the University of Cambridge (acting by the University's internatioanl exams group), the British CounciI (the UK's interntational cultural relations body) and IELTS Australia (ultimately half owned by 38 Australian universities).'

The involvement of Seek Ltd was deliberately omitted and recently was trying to purchase a further 10 per cent of shares from IDP Australia, giving them a majority ownership in IELTS Australia. As a
public company, Seek Limited has a fiduciary duty to maximise their profits. Seek's involvement in the IELTS testing system gives one a good understanding that there must be excellent profits in their

Why is IELTS so trusted by so many organisations?

The extent to why IELTS is trusted so much is partly due to who the owners originally were so that is why IDP Australia does not want to disclose their true partners. As long as people believe that the IELTS test is fully owned by the universities, the IELTS test carries with it a halo effect, where one feels positive about Australian universities and this positive feeling spills over into one's feeling about the IELTS test. Today the universities own just 50 per cent and the listed company Seek
Limited, who is extensively involved in the education sector, owns the balance.

Another surprise for many is that two of the three partners of IELTS are not Australian companies. They are British companies, being the British Council and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL). It is useful to look at the Charter of the British Council which says what they are:

The Charter is our constitution. It sets out the objects for which we exist, namely '[to] advance any purpose which is exclusively charitable and which shall

• promote a wider knowledge of the United Kingdom;
• develop a wider knowledge of the English language;
• encourage cultural, scientific, technological and other educational co-operation between the United Kingdom and other countries;
• or otherwise promote the advancement of education'.

Furthermore, and despite the claims to the contrary by IDP Australia, that the British Council is the United Kingdom's international cultural relations body, the British council's website makes it clear that they operate 'at arm's length from the UK government and it does not carry out its functions on behalf of the Crown.'

In describing who they are, the British Council emphasises it British loyalties:

All British Council communications should be constructed with our purpose in mind: to build mutually beneficial relationships between the UK and other countries and to increase appreciation of the UK's creative ideas and achievements.
Our purpose statement aims to sum up why we exist - what we do and why we do it - in one simple sentence. It ensures that our stakeholders see the value of investing in us.
Our brand reflects our purpose.
We build engagement and trust for the UK through the exchange of knowledge and ideas between people worldwide. © British Council 2008 (

The other British partner is University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL) and their mission statement is
'To provide language learners and teachers in a wide variety of situations with access to a range of high quality international exams, tests and teaching awards, which will help them to achieve their life
goals and have a positive impact on their learning and professional development experience.' ( It is claimed that Cambridge ESOL is a not-for-profit department of the University of Cambridge and part of the Cambridge Assessment group with the trading name of Cambridge Assessment. They promote themselves providing 'exams and tests covering a huge range of subjects and levels. All are respected for their quality, fairness and positive educational impact.' They further claim that their exams are developed on the basis of a long-term process of academic and practical research and that their exam are accurate, fair, reliable and relevant. ( httQ1/wv{W

All the partners of the IELTS testing system have now been identified and it would be quite a stretch to assume that the IELTS testing system has a lot of Australian input or relevance. The IELTS test has been principally designed to promote British English. However, some other
dialects may be used but it is only to put the "I" (International) in the IELTS name. The different English dialects used come only from the exempted "White" nations. This goes to the heart of the problem on why we have so many OTDs who cannot be professionally recognised. The English dialect they have learnt is not a British one and they are penalised by not being able to be examined in their dialect such as Indian English, Chinese English, and so on. To take away someone's language is to also take away his or her cultural identity.