In this week’s blog, our CEO discusses the Citizenship Test
The Citizenship application process is a complicated, arduous process which generates huge revenues for the Home Office. The Home Office is planning for a post-Brexit world and I think we need to think more carefully about the function of this application process. As I discussed in a previous blog, we are raising the bar unrealistically and unsustainably high, who would achieve all these things and also be willing to pay various fees adding up to almost £10,000?
The most nationalistic and outdated element of this process though is undoubtedly the ‘Life in the UK’ test people are required to score 75% in to pass. There is a case for testing, making sure those becoming citizens understand the laws, our values and their responsibilities as members of a community. Looking at the test though, the questions which meet that threshold are few and far between.
Looking at a range of ‘sample’ questions provided there were about 30% that felt like they could be relevant – laws, membership of the UN, festivals of various religions, how voting worked, getting a driving license etc. The rest were at best obtuse and at worst, strange. To successfully pass (keeping in mind you need to achieve 75%) you need to know when Britain separated from France, the details of the Education Act (1944), where the word Park comes from, the population of the UK in 1801 and the year Henry VIII became King (with all the possible options starting with 15 so no help just knowing the century).
Unless the British education system has significantly widened its curriculum since I was a student (which may be the case!) then I suspect we can anticipate that these standards exceed what we could expect from even the most ardently committed Brit. There have been multiple petitions online about making the questions more relevant to daily life, narrowing down the scope of what can be asked, and removing some topics. In July this year more than 175 historians called on the Home Office to remove ‘misleading and false’ questions relating to slavery and the empire.
There is the argument that if the USA require a thorough knowledge of history to pass a test as part of the path to citizenship then so can we. However, this can’t reasonably be considered a fair comparison given that a few of my colleagues at Head Office managed to pass the online tests without any prior research (or obviously having ever lived there!) and that their history in question is less than 250 years, which is significantly more concise than the net cast by the British test.
Oh and if you were wondering, according to the test, Britain separated from France 10,000 years ago. Hope that helps your day to day experience as a citizen and ability to be a valued member of your community.