Under the joint venture model, the university remains responsible for educational quality, while INTO provides the marketing and finance. This is in a political climate that favours public-private partnerships in general, and in which Bill Rammell, Minister of State in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, welcomed such innovation in higher education in particular, in response to a question from Essex MP Bob Russell.
INTO has so far set up joint ventures with five British universities: Newcastle, Exeter, East Anglia, Glasgow Caledonian, and Manchester. INTO's latest opening is the £30 million six-storey centre at UEA, with 415 en-suite study-bedrooms and classroom space for 600 students, due to open in September 2008.
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. 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.
The International Centre for English Language Studies (ICELS) at Oxford Brookes University strongly opposed INTO's approach , a campaign which succeeded . Bristol and Southampton have also been approached and decided not to go ahead with INTO. The University of Essex, following questions from UCU, has explained the benefits of working with INTO .
The guarantees that INTO offers to existing staff are under dispute. Andrew Colin rejects this 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 rejects the similarity of his business model to private finance initiatives (PFI).
In July 2008, INTO threatened UCU with a legal suit for defamation, in response to a union briefing entitled "Into the unknown" . The Guardian reports that the briefing, which appears to have been removed from the UCU website, stated that INTO would "damage the quality of education and would harm university reputations", has a "lack of interest in education and the way it operates" and is run by "ill-experienced people with no record in teaching international students and little understanding of English for academic purposes.
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