Life in the UK?

How appropriate is the Life in the UK Citizenship Test for living real life in the UK? According to a recent study, not that relevant at all! Research from the University of Leicester shows that many of those who take the test feel it doesn’t reflect the practicalities of their every day lives in the UK.

The life in the UK test was introduced in 2005. It was originally intended to facilitate integration into British society and promote social cohesion. However, it appears that it may have had the opposite effect.

Testing times

The study found that many people who took the test felt there were negative perceptions of some groups of migrants – those who were viewed as deserving of UK citizenship and others who weren’t. It was also found that some women were at a disadvantage, as they found it difficult to find the time, money (the test and naturalisation costs for one adult is over £1,300) and skills required to prepare for and take the test.

The research was carried out over 4 years, and was based on interviews with migrants from 39 different countries. The data has highlighted discontent with the layout of the test and how it’s carried out. One of the main criticisms is that the parts of the test which were useful, such as how to access public services, have now been removed.

So how can the test be improved, made to be more relevant to those who choose to live and work in the UK?

The way forward

Well, a number of recommendations have been put forward. The study suggests that a comprehensive review of the whole test should be carried out by a number of bodies, such as the Home Office, ESOL providers and teachers, local authorities, civil society organisations, and representatives of migrants from different nationalities and social backgrounds. It’s also recommended that the wider public should be better informed about the process of becoming a citizen and what is actually involved in applying to live in the UK.

For the more immediate future the study points to:

    • reintroducing practical features of life in the UK
    • permitting the test to be prepared for and taken in different languages
    • reducing fees and offering means-tested loans
    • making the citizenship ceremony optional rather than compulsory.

It remains to be seen what impact this report will have on Home Office views of the Citizenship test, but we will keep you updated on any new developments.

You can read the full study here, or an executive summary of the report here.

If you have any views on the Citizenship test or would like any more information, please get in touch.


Keep in touch with us