Cambridge English Language Assessment and the British Council work together on the IELTS, and have done since the test’s launch. They built the test together in the late 1970’s and originally made the IELTS available in 1980. At the time, they called it the ELTS (English Language Testing Service). Cambridge English Language Assessment already had the Cambridge English Exams, but this new test was intended to reflect new research on language learning and usage in everyday life. It was also intended to be able to address the specific needs of universities in testing academic English skills.
In the mid 1980’s, the International Development Program of Australian Universities and Colleges joined the British Council and Cambridge in redesigning and relaunching the IELTS. The IELTS launched under its current name in 1989.
The British Council is an educational and cultural organization, and a registered charity. In addition to jointly managing the IELTS, it administers the IELTS in its English language schools in over 50 countries. The IELTS can also be taken in many other test centers and schools.
Cambridge English Language Assessment is part of the University of Cambridge and it is the organization behind the academic design and construction of the IELTS. It is a non-profit and has more than 10 other English exams for non-native English speakers, including the Cambridge English exams as well as specialized professional exams. Cambridge English participated in the development of the Common European Framework of Reference and aligned the IELTS to that framework when it became available.