Controversial proposals by a Glasgow-based university to carve out the recruitment and teaching of international students to a private provider have been ditched, The Journal can reveal.
Senior management at the University of Strathclyde has ended talks with INTO – a private company tasked with preparing overseas students for study at institutions across the UK – over a proposed partnership designed to boost lucrative income from foreign fees.
Under the joint venture, which has operated at Glasgow Caledonian University since 2008, overseas students are enrolled in language and foundation courses coordinated by INTO in the hope that they will then progress onto full-time fee-paying programmes at the host higher education institution.
However, the prospect of university funds being channelled into a private for-profit company raised concerns among student and staff unions who welcomed the decision to withdraw from negotiations.
Associate Deputy Principal Colin Grant informed a meeting of University Senate, the institution’s leading academic body, on November 9 that discussions had closed following a failure to agree a termination clause in the proposed contract.
Minutes of the meeting obtained by The Journal said: “The University considered the proposal by INTO to be unsatisfactory. While this was disappointing, it was acknowledged that the work done through internal collaborations would not be wasted and thanks were expressed to all the staff involved.
“The University would now consider the lessons learned from this.”
The institution would move forward by concentrating on seeking the best from existing partnerships, Principal Jim McDonald said, adding the decision not to go ahead with the partnership illustrated the due diligence undertaken by the University. Critics this week hailed the conclusion of talks between the two.
A spokesman for lecturers’ union, University and College Union (UCU) Strathclyde branch, told The Journal: “From an early stage SUCU has advised the University management that it was inadvisable for the University to engage in discussion with INTO. UCU made it clear that we did not believe that INTO was an appropriate agent to enter into discussions with.
“We are therefore delighted at the reported decision to end these discussions. We will continue to oppose the outsourcing and privatisation of university services and functions: we do not believe that such a process is in the interests of staff, students or indeed the University as a whole.”
President of the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association (USSA), Charandeep Singh, added: “USSA has actively campaigned against a deal with INTO and we are pleased the University is not entering into an agreement with the organisation.”
A university spokesman told The Journal: “The University of Strathclyde has a successful track record in recruiting students from overseas, it works with a number of partners and had been exploring a possible partnership with INTO University Partnerships.
“Those discussions came to an end last year without agreement.”