The British Council and IDP were both previously partners in the business: IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English.
Following the sale, all IELTS tests in India will be delivered by IDP. British Council employees working on IELTS in the country will become part of the IDP team.
“The proceeds of the sale will enable British Council to improve its financial position”
Kate Ewart-Biggs, Interim CEO of British Council, reiterated its commitment to its broader services in India.
“Distributing IELTS solely through IDP in India will simplify and improve the customer experience for test takers,” she said.
“As IDP already delivers IELTS in India, the high-quality service provided to IELTS customers will remain the same.”
The sale is “customary conditions” with completion expected to occur this August. It comes after a period of financial difficulties for the British Council, which was forced to shut down the majority of its language schools during the pandemic.
IELTS says it is the world’s “most popular” English language test for study and migration and is trusted by more than 10,000 organisations around the world.
“By bringing together two expert teams, test takers can feel confident they are getting the best experience possible when taking their world-leading test,” commented Andrew Barkla, CEO of IDP.
“Our test takers can focus on preparing for their test as planned, and our team is here to make sure everything goes smoothly on test day.
“IELTS’ 30-year history and global partnership model means it has globally-standardised quality and integrity processes already built into every centre’s operations.”
Barkla said that the agreement will help many people in India “reignite their global goals”.
“This agreement will see us move forward with expert teams, a strong strategy and a large geographic footprint across India,” he said.
“Together we are well-placed to help more people in India take the first step in achieving their global study, work and career ambitions.”
The British Council has faced significant financial difficulties as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The organisation was forced to shut 44 of 47 English language schools and 195 of 223 language test centres, cutting off its main source of income, according to a report by POLITICO.
“Distributing IELTS solely through IDP in India will simplify and improve the customer experience for IELTS test takers
“To ensure we could continue to deliver on our global cultural relations mission, we explored strategic options for the English examinations business with IDP in India in 2020,” confirmed Ewart-Biggs.
“The proceeds of the sale will enable British Council to improve its financial position following the impact of COVID-19 on our finances.”
Ewart-Biggs said that wider British Council work will continue in India and that the organisation remains committed to realising its goal of building trust and understanding between the UK and India through arts, education, assessment and the English language.
“We would like to recognise the hard work of our staff across India who have worked tirelessly for many years and especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is our leading British Council IELTS teams in India, now transitioning to IDP, who put their heart and soul into delivering safe and trusted testing services year on year,” she added.
IELTS assesses a test taker’s English language proficiency across four skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. A spokesperson for the company declined to reveal how many IELTS tests are taken annually in the country, citing global data only.