Hong Kong: In July 2017, British Council launched a digital campaign aiming to inspire special needs candidates. The campaign invited past IELTS test takers worldwide to share how IELTS has changed their lives by enabling further studies, career development and life as a global citizen. After receiving thousands of positive responses from past IELTS test takers, British Council hereby announces the launch of the IELTS Dream Big Fund. This fund provides a financial incentive to special needs candidates who wish to pursue their dream of studying abroad.
The IELTS Dream Big Fund, totalling GBP60,000, will support up to twelve special needs students in the East Asia region who plan to start their undergraduate or postgraduate studies overseas in 2018. To be eligible, the student needs to take IELTS with British Council and then use their score to apply for a programme in a higher education institution. Entries will be judged on the merit of a personal statement which individuals will need to submit as part of their application.
Steve Adams, Director Examinations, East Asia explains that “equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of British Council’s corporate culture. In the past two decades, over 1,200 special needs candidates in East Asia have realised their dreams by taking IELTS. With the IELTS Dream Big Fund, we hope to encourage and support candidates with disability to pursue their study dreams, which may, in turn, provide them with life-changing opportunities and lead to greater things in life.”
In 2016, more than 3 million IELTS tests were taken globally. At British Council, personalised test arrangements are provided to IELTS candidates with a range of special needs, including visual, hearing, speech or mobility impairment; writing difficulties; spinal, neurological and mental illnesses; and several other disabilities which require special accommodations.
British Council aims to provide maximum convenience for candidates, with a current offering of 274 test venues across 12 countries in East Asia. According to recent statistics, IELTS has provided customised test services for 1,276 special needs candidates. Among them, 165 were visually impaired, 640 were hearing impaired, 97 were with physical disabilities, and 374 were with other special needs.
Many of those special needs test takers have subsequently realised their academic dreams. Wu Jing, a visually impaired candidate and an athlete in the 2004 Paralympics Games, scored 7.5 in IELTS and is now living in Stockholm as flute performer and board member of the Swedish Youth Association for the Blind. Zheng Jianwei, another visually impaired candidate who took IELTS in 2012, graduated from a UK university in TESOL. He also attained the “China Outstanding Disabled Persons” award.