Members of the controversial Gülen Movement are no strangers to accusations of cheating in exams, but new allegations show their cheating scheme has now expanded to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English-language speakers. The Gülen Movement has been implicated in a string of terror-related crimes and is now accused of helping students cheat on exams organized by several U.K.-based organizations.
IELTS is not the only English-language exam the Gülenists have been accused of cheating on. Turkish prosecutors last year launched an investigation into allegations that Gülenists were involved in scoring irregularities on TOEFL exams.
Sources say the Measurement, Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM), the state body that oversees exams in Turkey, investigated academics promoted after passing IELTS and found out Gülenists cheated their way through the exams. The ÖSYM investigation revealed members of the Gülen Movement bribed test organizers.
According to the inquiry, in 2013, 1,565 people scored high on IELTS exams given at Zirve, Turgut Özal, Melikşah, İpek and Mevlana - all private universities linked to the Gülen Movement. Due to their passing IELTS scores, all of the participants were employed by public universities. Interestingly, they all scored points just sufficient for admission and half of the successful participants were either married couples or relatives. The ÖSYM inquiry also showed almost all participants had repeatedly failed English language exams previously organized by the ÖSYM - tests which were deemed far easier than IELTS or TOEFL.
Cheating on exams is a way for Gülenists to infiltrate state agencies and other important institutions. The Gülen Movement, led by Pennsylvania-based retired imam Fethullah Gülen, has been accused of attempting to overthrow the government under the guise of an anti-graft inquiry led by Gülenist prosecutors and police officers in 2013.
Last week, three suspects linked to Gülen Movement were detained as part of an investigation into a cheating scandal regarding the Public Personnel Selection Exam (KPSS).
The inquiry into the Public Personnel Selection Exam (KPSS) scandal launched earlier this year. Although having an unassuming name, the exam is the only way to be hired by state-run agencies, barring a few exceptions. Accordingly, it has been a favorite option for Gülenists seeking easy access to key posts in the bureaucracy.
Suspects detained last week were employees of ÖSYM tasked with preparing the questions for the KPSS, which hundreds of people are believed to have cheated on in 2010.