INTO University Partnerships: Wikis


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INTO University Partnerships
Type Private
Founded 2005
Founder(s) Andrew Colin
Headquarters London
Industry Education
Website INTO University Partnerships

INTO University Partnerships is a British limited company that specialises in setting up joint ventures with universities. It focuses on the provision of foundation courses for international students, including English language, especially English for Academic Purposes.



INTO University Partnerships was founded in 2005 and is chaired by Andrew Colin, who had previously set up Study Group International, an education business he sold to the Daily Mail Group (which subsequently sold it on to Champ Private Equity[1]), and Embassy CES, a chain of language schools. He is an entrepreneur who enjoys excitement and adrenaline, including heli-skiing[2]. Since the sale of Study Group, Colin has broadened his interests to include property development[3]. In 2007, well before the British property bubble burst, he stated that INTO is "not trying to make money out of the tuition fees. That's the problem with both language schools and international education. If you only have tuition fees to make money from then the easiest way to increase your profits is to cut your teachers' wages. INTO is going to make money out of the buildings."[4].

Under the joint venture model, the university remains responsible for educational quality[5], while INTO provides the marketing infrastructure, finance and specialist management experience. This business model was developed in a political climate that favours public-private partnerships. Bill Rammell, Minister of State in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, in response to a question from Colchester MP Bob Russell, welcomed such innovation in higher education[6].

INTO has so far set up joint ventures with five British universities: Newcastle, Exeter, East Anglia, Glasgow Caledonian, and Manchester[7]. INTO's latest opening, in October 2008, was the £35 million six-storey centre at UEA, with 415 en-suite study-bedrooms and classroom space for 600 students[8].

Future plans

By April 2009 INTO joint ventures employed nearly 500 staff preparing 2,850 international students for UK university education.

INTO has been in preliminary discussion with several other British universities, the majority of which have decided not to form a partnership, including Essex, Goldsmiths and Westminster. Essex elected to restructure its own international operations, and Goldsmiths to suspend its internationalisation plans[7]. In contrast, the Senate of Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, voted in favour of an INTO partnership in April 2009, which led to the setting up of INTO Queen's University of Belfast.

In July 2008, INTO announced that it had signed its first agreement in the United States, to operate a foundation year programme for Oregon State University. OSU said that it had long wanted to expand the number of international students, and turned to INTO for its worldwide infrastructure and expertise in recruitment; some staff, on the other hand, expressed concerns over working conditions. The programme is due to start in autumn 2009.[9] It intends to begin with 150-200 students. A local news source, OregonLive, states that the new venture will "replace the English Language Institute, a self-sustaining program that has helped international students learn English for 43 years", a move that fills its former director with concern.[10]. The Provost of OSU, Sabah Randhawa, who has led the university's transformational development, expressed satisfaction with the partnership[11].

Opposition from lecturers and conflict with UCU

Several British universities have been approached by INTO and the majority have decided not to proceed. The University and College Union (UCU) claims credit in cases where initial discussions have not progressed, whereas the institutions have not publicly cited staff opposition. UCU has consistently opposed INTO's expansion into higher education, claiming that in every case where staff were consulted, they rejected INTO. For example, in a survey of staff at Essex, 90% rejected the proposed partnership.[12] This objection is compounded by two things: that INTO does not recognise unions, and that Andrew Colin acknowledges that the rates offered are likely to be worse.[13]

The International Centre for English Language Studies (ICELS) at Oxford Brookes University strongly opposed INTO's approach,[14] and the UCU claimed credit for this opposition influencing the university's decision. The university stated that it would not go ahead with the project because it required such a large real estate commitment.[15] The University of Essex, following questions from UCU,[16] explained the benefits of working with INTO,[17] but in October 2008 decided not to enter a partnership.[18]

In February 2007, the Times Higher Education published an article featuring the UCU's dispute of guarantees that INTO offered to existing Newcastle staff.[19] Andrew Colin rejected the UCU criticism, saying in 2007 "Give me three years and I will show you it is possible to create secure, well-paid jobs in EAP, and more of them," and rejected the similarity of his business model to private finance initiatives (PFI).[20]

In July 2008, INTO threatened UCU with a legal suit for defamation, in response to a union briefing entitled "Into the unknown". The union removed the document from their website.[21]

Accounts question

INTO reached the parliamentary record when MP Austin Mitchell asked why it had not filed financial records with Companies House[22], as it is legally obliged to do. Andrew Colin said in the Times Higher Education that the delay in submitting accounts was a "simple mistake"[23]. He also revealed that the first set of submitted accounts showed a loss of £1.7m, but stated that the company would be beyond the break-even point by the third year.

INTO University Partnerships is a separate company from each of the joint ventures, which are owned by INTO and the institutional partner. INTO has funded the start-up and growth of the partnership network, with a private investment of £8.4 million committed to date. The business is meeting or exceeding all financial targets.


According to the Civil Aviation Authority's database on registered civil aircraft, a subsidiary, INTO Air, has registered a Swiss-built Pilatus PC-12 turbo-prop aircraft, with registration G-INTO [24]. An article in General Aviation magazine quotes the cost of these aircraft as starting at $4m and states that Andrew Colin has ordered a second aircraft for delivery in 2010 [25 ]. Colin credits the first corporate plane, which he had had for only a few months at the time of the interview, with transforming the way he and his UK team did business, removing much of the strain of travel. “In one week we attended meetings in Glasgow and Newcastle on the Monday, Oxford and London on the Tuesday, Exeter and Birmingham on the Wednesday, Glasgow again on the Thursday and Norwich on the Friday."[25 ].

The aeroplane is leased under a long-term rental agreement.

See also


  1. ^ Champ Private Equity portfolio
  2. ^ Sovereign Credit, a financial services company of which he is a director.
  3. ^ Espalier Group Ltd, a property company owned and chaired by Colin and sharing the same registered address in London.
  4. ^ English Language Gazette "Profiteer or prophet?" interview by Melanie Butler, August 2007, available from the INTO Media Pack
  5. ^ "UK University Foundation Courses" by Melanie Butler, Moscow Times Jobs & Careers supplement March 2008
  6. ^ Hansard, 7 July 2008
  7. ^ a b 'The Guardian "Language trainer Into threatens to sue university union"
  8. ^ "Spirited Blessing for Student Centre" 19 March 2008
  9. ^ New York Times "College and Company Link Up to Lure Foreigners" 8 August 2008
  10. ^ [1] OregonLive "Oregon State University and a British company court international students -- and controversy" 12 August 2008
  11. ^ INTO advertisement in International Educator, May/June 2009 issue
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ [3]
  14. ^ Hands Off ICELS campaign
  15. ^ “University drops English privatisation plans” Guardian article by Debbie Andalo, 30 March 2007
  16. ^ Union briefing document for university council
  17. ^ University council response
  18. ^ All pathway provision to be taught and run by International Academy [4]
  19. ^ “Hive-off row” Times Higher Education Supplement 9 Feb 2007
  20. ^ English Language Gazette "Profiteer or prophet?" interview by Melanie Butler, August 2007, available from the INTO media page
  21. ^ "Language trainer Into threatens to sue university union". The Guardian. 30 July 2008.  
  22. ^ Hansard record
  23. ^ Times Higher Education "Into founder says his private capital supports public work"
  24. ^ Civil Aviation Authority database accessed 15 March 2008.
  25. ^ a b General Aviation August 2007, p21. "PC-12s gang up at Goodwood"

External links



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