Say No to Privatisation at Essex: International Academy

Say No to Privatisation at Essex

-University plans to privatise International Academy
-Gives private provider a foothold in the University
-Gateway for future privatisation

Written by Staff and Students in Essex Education Activist Network

At the end of April an innocuous looking email went out to all staff, talking about a ‘consultation’ on the future of the International Academy. Read the details, and something more troubling emerges. The proposals in the consultation document involve handing over control of the University’s International Academy to a private company.

The International Academy provides foundation degrees for international students to at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. It helps many students to acquire the skills necessary to move on to other degrees within the university.

But apparently, based on figures that many contest, the IA is set to “fall well short of the University-wide gross surplus target of 46 per cent”. These targets already show the way in which the logic of the market has entered our university, with sections of the university competing to generate surplus. However, if the University Steering Group gets its way it won’t just be the logic of the market, but the market itself.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves. This is a gateway for wider privatisation. It gives a private provider a foothold in the university. And which private company will it be?

Perhaps Apollo, who run the University of Pheonix and are involved in BPP, the UK’s first fully private university. Graduation rate at Pheonix University is 9%. Apollo were ordered to pay shareholders $280m dollars after being found guilty of “knowingly and recklessly” misleading investors.

Or Perhaps Kaplan, Apollo’s partners in BPP whose parent company is the Washington Post, and who are already involved with running the hotel on campus. Kaplan has been making inroads into British education, but staff working for them report huge class sizes, substandard teaching materials, lower standards and lower pay. Last year a group of students petitioned for Kaplan’s flagship campus in the US to be closed, claiming that “for many students, all they deliver is debt, unethical practices and misleading claims”

All the experience shows that private providers are bad for students, bad for staff, and good for only one thing: their own balance sheets.

How many other departments might find themselves part of this sort of ‘partnership’ once a private company has got its claws into the university, especially if all it takes is failing to meet the university’s arbitrary targets? We need to stop this privatisation now, and send a clear message that our university is not for sale.


  • Take part in the ‘consultation’ process. Email before 5pm 1st June and register your objection to private providers in education.
  • Send support to colleagues in the IA.
  • Don’t just take our word for it. Research companies like Kaplan and Apollo, and you’ll see the damage they do to education as a social good.
  • Get involved with the campaign to defend education. Visit and find Essex Education Activist Network on Facebook.

About essexean

Essex Education Activist Network: coordinating resistance to the marketisation of Higher Education at the University of Essex. A section of the Education Activist Network.
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1 Response to Say No to Privatisation at Essex: International Academy

  1. Pingback: Privatisation Halted at Essex | Essex Education Activist Network

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