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British Council
Founders United Kingdom Government
Type Cultural institution
Founded 1934
Staff Lord Kinnock (Chairperson)
Martin Davidson (Chief Executive)
Area served Worldwide
Revenue £551 million (2006/7)
British Council building in London

The British Council is a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation based in the United Kingdom which specialises in international educational and cultural opportunities. It is a non-departmental public body, a public corporation incorporated by royal charter, and is registered as a charity in England.

Founded in 1934, it was granted a royal charter by King George VI in 1940.[1] Its current Chair is Lord Kinnock, the former leader of the UK Labour Party and a former European Commissioner. Its 'sponsoring department' within the United Kingdom Government is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, although it has day-to-day operational independence. Martin Davidson is its chief executive, appointed in April 2007.

Lord Kinnock will step down as British Council Chair after a meeting of the Board of Trustees on 7 July 2009 following the appointment of his wife to the House of Lords and as a Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which is the sponsoring department of British Council.[2] Their son Stephen Kinnock - who was previously British Council's main lobbyist in Brussels and St Petersburg - left in January 2009 to take up a job with The World Economic Forum after he was expelled from Russia.

The Deputy Chair of British Council - Labour housing activist Gerard Lemos who is also a director of British Council's "off record" company British Council International Trading Limited - will take over as Acting Chairperson until a successor to Lord Kinnock is recruited.[3]



The British Council says its remit is "to build mutually beneficial cultural and educational relationships between the United Kingdom and other countries, and increase appreciation of the United Kingdom’s creative ideas and achievements." Its overseas network extends to 233 locations in 107 countries and territories. It has headquarters in Spring Gardens, near Whitehall in Central London, and in Manchester. There are other branch offices in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.[4]

Of its total income of £551m in 2006/07, the British Council received £195m of grants from the British government. The rest was earned through charging for teaching English to individuals and organisations, examinations and commercial consultancy — often acting as a managing agent for UK Government departments, which it lobbies assiduously for business and from which it has received tender waivers (see English for Peace below). Its main areas of activity are 'Learning/Teaching, the Arts, Science and Society'. It has closed many of the overseas British Council libraries which used to be the valued public face of The British Council.

In June 2009 - hours after its Chairperson Neil Kinnock announced that he would be stepping down - it was announced that 400-500 jobs at British Council would be shed as part of wider restructuring of the organisation which is reported to involve outsourcing back-office jobs overseas and a further centralisation of their regional operation across the United Kingdom. [5]

In September 2009 British Council Director of Arts Rebecca Walton told 'Monocle' magazine: "We've really been striving to put the arts back alongside the main purpose of the British Council which is cultural relations. The arts are the most powerful tool you have to build a dialogue discussion across boundaries. It was only very recently that I heard a member of the Foreign Office say for the first time that arts are now as important as sanctions in the toolkit. We want people to become more inclined towards the UK and more sensitive to the positive benefits of the UK in the world. We want to focus on the BRIC countries. Russia is a difficult area politically. Also, in the Gulf we're just growing our presence. We're extending playwriting development work down there, which is about writing about areas of interest for younger people, seeing what can capture their interests. We've had this going on at the Royal Court with readings from the Near East and North Africa and we want this to go down the Gulf as well. As a country we do the longer-term stuff; there are occasions when I think the UK needs to do more of the big bucks projects, when it can change the atmosphere of a city quite viscerally, like France's Louvre in Abu Dhabi." (Monocle Issue 26 volume 03 September 2009).

Initiatives such as the Peacekeeping English Project in Libya are funded by the FCO, DfID and the Ministry of Defence - and continue to raise eyebrows amongst some British Council critics.[6][7]

Expenses Scandal

Mark Lancaster, Michael Martin (politician), and other MPs have been involved in rows over expenses incurred on tax payer funded British Council trips. In 2008 Mark Lancaster flew business class to Bangkok with the British Council for a two-day conference, at a cost of £5,018. Labour MP Sally Keeble flew out economy class and returned business class at a cost of £2,452. MPs must normally declare any hospitality they receive from outside organisations, and the British Council does not appear on a list of bodies whose gifts are exempt from the requirement. Mr Martin signed a special certificate preventing the release of information about these trips, citing "Parliamentary privilege". This was condemned by MPs from all parties as well as civil liberty advocates.[8]




There are 70 British Council Teaching Centres in 53 countries. It taught 1,189,000 class hours to 300,000 learners in 2006/07.[9] The British council claims to be 'the world's largest English language teaching organisation' [4].

In its examination centres , the British Council administers 1.5 million UK examinations to over one million candidates each year. It is also working with the UK's award bodies to extend the range of professional qualifications available overseas. The Council also oversees British schools operating internationally through bodies such as COBIS, NABSS, and the European Council of International Schools.

The British Council helps to run the global IELTS English test

The Council jointly runs the global IELTS English language standardised test with University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and IDP Education Australia.

In schools in England, the British Council is working with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to help three million children gain an International School Award to increase their "understanding and appreciation of other cultures". There are now 2,700 UK schools working towards an award. In the Middle East, the British Council runs a school links programme bringing children in the UK together with those in the region in order to break down negative perceptions of Britain and foster "inter-cultural dialogue". To date, 153 schools in the Middle East are involved in 53 collaborative projects.

Working Abroad

Within the UK the British Council administers the International Association of the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE). This programme operates in over 80 countries worldwide[10] and offers students, studying in the UK, the opportunity to take an internship as part of an international placement working abroad.[11]

The programme accepts highly motivated undergraduates studying a technical degree i.e. engineering, science, architecture or pharmacy, and are in their second year or above and have a strong desire to work abroad in a paid, course-related internship. Placements typically occur for 8–12 weeks during the summer months, however opportunities exist for positions lasting up to a year, suitable for anyone interested in working abroad during their placement or gap year.

The programme also offers employers the opportunity to hire high calibre foreign undergraduates.[12] For many companies in industries which are currently experiencing a shortage of graduate’s e.g. electronic engineering, this can provide an important source of labour.

Sports festivals

On playing fields in 40 countries British Council hopes young people have learned new leadership and team-building skills by being involved in "Dreams+Teams" sports festivals. The programme has trained 5,500 "young leaders" and has reached 280,000 people in their schools and communities. The British Council is expanding its activities to help more young people prepare for "global citizenship".

English for peace

"English for peace" is an important and growing element of British Council English language work in Africa and other parts of the world. It works with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence to improve the English language skills of military personnel the Peacekeeping English Project (PEP). PEP is helping train approximately 50,000 military and police service personnel in 28 countries worldwide, amongst them Libya [13], Ethiopia and Georgia [14]. The Peacekeeping English Project is managed by the British Council and funded by the UK government global conflict prevention fund.

Although the project is named the Peacekeeping English Project, it is not linked to any specific UN peacekeeping mission, and is in effect a Military English project. Some of the project's clients, such as Libyan Military Intelligence [15] are not, and never have been, involved in any peacekeeping mission.

Online Initiatives

In 2007,The British Council China Region launched a new community website for English learners and teachers across mainland China and Hong Kong. The site has already over 30,000 members. English Online has social networking functionality as well as a range of podcasts for English learners - [5][16]

The British Council has entered Second Life Teen Grid to create an educational island for learners of English as of 2007.[17][18]

Other activities

Cafés Scientifiques

In the UK and some other countries, the British Council runs cafés scientifiques, informal events to engage people with creative ideas about science. They take place in cafés, bars and bookshops and begin with a short talk from a UK scientist or science writer. Events so far have brought together audiences from as far away as India and Malaysia to discuss the social and ethical aspects of issues from Darwin to DNA, from global warming to artificial intelligence.


ZeroCarbonCity[19] is the British Council’s global campaign to raise awareness about climate change and the energy challenges facing the world’s cities. It chose climate change as the major theme for its science work "to underline the leadership being shown by the UK in tackling this major issue, the Prime Minister's commitment to use the G8 and EU presidencies to renew efforts to confront the global challenges". The programme included a touring exhibition, an online global debate and series of seminars and conferences. 62 countries have participated in ZeroCarbonCity and 2.5 million people have been reached directly by the campaign.

After a successful Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs youth campaign in 2006, the British Council began the "Climate Change Champions" scheme to select young champions from 13 countries (three from each), representing the G8+5.[2] The project's aim is to allow youth ambassadors to spread awareness about climate change's effects and mitigation solutions in their own communities.

The Champions first visited London in May 2008, where they developed three aspirational challenges for G8 Environment Ministers. Youths worldwide then voted for their favoured challenge. The Champions then presented the winning option for the "Kobe Challenge" in Kobe, Japan, and committed to complete a project in their own countries and report on progress.[2]

Shakespearean play in Afghanistan

The British Council-supported production of Love's Labour's Lost in 2005 was the first performance of a Shakespeare play in Afghanistan in over 17 years. The play was performed in the Afghan language of Dari and the capacity audience responded enthusiastically to the eternal and universal themes of Shakespeare’s play and to the local references and music.

Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards

The British Council has joined in work on promoting the UK experience with the creative industries abroad, including running a series of awards for young creative entrepreneurs worldwide such as the International Young Publisher of the Year and International Young Music Entrepreneur of the Year awards. [20]

The YCE award programme is divided into two strands: one for international creative entrepreneurs from emerging economies, and another one for UK creative entrepreneurs.[21]

Palestine Festival of Literature

The British Council has been a primary partner since the Festival's beginning in 2008. In 2009, Israeli forces closed down the venue scheduled to host the Festival's closing event, but the British Council memorably stepped in and the evening was relocated to its grounds[22].

The Prime Minister's Global Fellowship

The British Council is responsible for the running of this programme, although it is funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The British Council administer training for the 100 Fellows each year, deliver the programme in each country and are involved in co-ordinating their activities upon their return.[23] (For more information, see main article The Prime Minister's Global Fellowship

Difficulties in Russia

In recent years the Council has experienced difficulties operating in Russia, contributing to the sometimes tense Anglo-Russian relationship. It operates under a 1994 intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture. The British Government has been seeking for some years to establish a new Cultural Centres Agreement (CCA) which would formalize the British Council's status in Russia [24]. The British Council is now registered for tax in Russia and pays tax on its "fee-earning work". The Russian Government has also challenged their claim to have been exempt in the past from paying local taxation on their commercial language teaching courses and also over The British Council's support for Russian NGOs that are perceived as political.

Also regarding Russia, in late 2007 the British Council announced that it is to cease carrying out all ESOL and other English Language examinations in Russia with effect from 1 January 2008. It cites "circumstances beyond our control" as being the cause and it appears that some examinations that had already been booked have been cancelled.[25] In addition, the British Council has stated that all offices in Russia, with the exception of Moscow, St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg will close before the end of 2007. Subsequent confirmation of closures is reported here [26].

A further development occurred on 12 December 2007, when it was reported that the British Council had been ordered by the Russian Foreign Ministry to close its two remaining offices outside of Moscow before the beginning of January 2008. The Ministry maintained that the British Council was "operating illegally" within Russia and that "the Council had violated tax regulations, among other laws".[27] The Russian position was summarised in an article published on the Moscow News website.[28]

After the Council's offices in St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg reopened in mid-January after the New Year break, the Russian authorities accused Britain of intentional provocation, because this action was illegal. However, British Ambassador Sir Tony Brenton said he had informed Vladimir Titov, the deputy foreign minister, that the offices would remain open as "the British Council is working entirely legally, that it will continue therefore to work, that any Russian action against it would be a breach of international law".[29] On 15 January 2008, the head of the St Petersburg office Stephen Kinnock, son of Neil Kinnock, was detained for alleged traffic offences and drunken driving; but declined to take an alcohol-level breath test, claiming diplomatic status, which was confirmed as valid when the British Consul-General arrived at the scene about one hour later. He was then released. [30] Stephen Kinnock departed Russia the following day and is now working for the British Council in Sierra Leone. [31]

Following the reopening, FSB officials interviewed British Council staff at both St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg, apparently informing them that they were working for an illegal organization. This resulted in the closure of both offices, owing to lack of staff, and they remained shut on 17 January 2008.[32] While the British saw little possibility of reopening the offices given the problems with their staff, Yury Fedotov, Russia's ambassador to London, told journalists that a solution to the dispute could be reached if Britain showed more respect for Moscow's position: "A resolution is possible, but we need to gain more respect and avoid further public discussions which under the current circumstances are unhelpful," he explained.[33]

In June 2008 it was announced that the British Council were being further investigated by the Russian tax authorities for non-payment of tax. This hinged on a disputed tax bill with respect to a tax asessment which was issued in May 2008, but which relates to 2007.

In an emailed statement the British Council said, “The British Council is registered with the tax authorities, it regularly pays taxes ... and carries out all the demands of the Russian tax authorities.”

However, it is alleged that the Council has failed to pay all tax due under the tax bill mentioned, describing the amount demanded as “punitive and disproportionately large”. Should the full amount remain unpaid, then possible actions by the Russian tax authorities include the seizure of property, including books, furniture, poetry (sic) and computers, from the British Council’s now sole-remaining Russian office in Moscow. Such action has been described by an official as being the "standard procedure in cases where tax authorities believe that there is still an outstanding sum". [34]

In December 2008 a Russian court reinstituted the tax case against British Council for £2.3m overturning a decision by a lower court which UK diplomats had hoped had resolved this matter.[35] The Council also finally parted company with Stephen Kinnock, who will be taking up a new post with The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland from January 2009.[36]

Further light on British Council's difficulties in Russia was shed in an interview with one of their Russian Assistant Directors in Moscow - educationalist Elena Lenskaya - who quit back in February 2008 just as the spat between Russia and Britain erupted. In an interview with the journal University World News she explained that she had 'seen the writing on the wall' after a British Council restructuring plan for their Russian operations dumbed the organisation down:

'For some months now, she had been looking to move on. Then the diplomatic strain between Britain and Russia spilled over into a spat that saw the British Council’s activities in St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg suspended.

“I decided to leave long before the council’s current predicament, when I learned of a restructuring plan that to my mind made no sense at all,” she says, as we sit cramped together in the tiny cubby-hole of an office she has at the MSSES, located in the Academy of National Economy in south-west Moscow.

The restructuring plan involved reducing a long-standing reliance on in-house expertise and creating more generalised programmes and management, Lenskaya says. As a woman who has spent her career developing expertise in educational training, management, quality assurance and delivery, she saw the writing on the wall.

She left, taking one member of her British Council team with her, and is now busy setting up a wide range of new projects designed to improve Russia’s capacity to deliver high quality, modern and appropriate school, university and education training.'

British Council in China

British Council, Hong Kong

The Council started its work in Hong Kong in 1948. The work of the British Council includes teaching English; providing the latest information about the United Kingdom; promoting British education and training; working closely with Hong Kong Government on reform and governance and showcasing British science, arts, literature and design. [37]


In March 2007, the British Council announced its 'intention to increase its investment in the Middle East, North Africa and Central and Southern Asia'. This will largely be funded by cuts in other services, libraries and office closures across Europe. In June 2007, MPs were told of further closures in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (where there had been a British Council Library since 1946). The British Council libraries in Athens[38] and in Belgrade[39] are also to close. Similarly in India, the British Council Libraries at Bhopal and Trivandrum are facing closure by March, this year.[40] as part of the Council's policy to "reduce its physical presence" in the country and to divert funds to mega projects in the fields of culture, education, science and research.

At the end of December 2009 even the British Council Library in Mumbai finally closed its doors to its members for the last time. Indian commentators were unimpressed by promises of online alternatives.

British Council libraries and offices have also been closed in a number of other countries judged by the British Council to be of little strategic or commercial importance as it refocused its activities on China and The Gulf where it can get a 'bigger bang for the buck'. Council offices were closed in Lesotho, Swaziland, Ecuador and provincial Länder in Germany in 2000–2001 — as well as Belarus — prompting Parliamentary criticism. Subsequent promises by British Council Chair Neil Kinnock to a conference in Edinburgh [41] that the Belarus closure would hopefully prove to be just a "temporary" withdrawal proved illusory. The British Council office in Peru also closed in September 2006 as part of a rethink of its strategy in Latin America [42].

Charles Arnold-Baker, author of the Companion to British History said of the British Council's shift in priorities: 'This whole policy is misconstrued from top to bottom. We are going somewhere where we can't succeed and neglecting our friends in Europe who wish us well. The only people who are going to read our books in Beirut or Baghdad are converts already[43].

The article also points out that the Alliance française and the Goethe-Institut, unlike the British Council, are both expanding and replenishing libraries Europe-wide. France opened its new library in Tel Aviv in 2007 — just a few months after British Council closed there and shut down the British Council library in West Jerusalem.[44] In Gaza, the Institut Francais supports the Gaza municipal library in partnership with the local authority and a municipal twinning link between Gaza City and the French port of Dunkerque.[45][46] In Edinburgh, the French Institute[47] runs a library that is open to the general public and a large programme of cultural events - in sharp contrast to the British Council office in Scotland's capital city which is located on the top-floor of an office block with access controlled by entry-phone discouraging visits from the general public. In Oslo British Council informs Norwegian callers that 'our office is not open to the public and we do not have an enquiry service'.[48] The Norwegians in contrast operate a large network of honorary consuls in Britain to promote cultural and business co-operation and in Edinburgh the new Honorary Norwegian Consul even runs The Edinburgh Zoo in his spare time.[49] Goethe Institute also has a more visible presence in Glasgow than The British Council.[50] There is now, in contrast, only one British Council office left in Germany - and that is in East Berlin.[51]

While Members of Parliament and others have criticised the lack of strong parliamentary accountability for the British Council, the organisation does have close lobbying links to individual parliamentarians. These included the Conservative Party Shadow Culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt MP whose Hotcourses company has close links to The British Council through Sheffield Data Services [52].

Formally it is to its sponsoring department, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, that the UK Parliamentary Table Office refers any parliamentary questions about British Council [53].

The effectiveness of British Council efforts to promote higher education in China have also recently been examined in England by The House of Commons Select Committee on Education and Skills in a report issued on 5 August 2007 [54]. It expressed concern that in terms of joint educational programmes involving Chinese universities, UK lagged behind Australia, USA, Hong Kong China, Canada and France. In its evidence to this committee, The British Council had argued that "UK degrees are highly valued by international students for their global recognition. International students adopt an essentially utilitarian view of higher education which is likely to increasingly involve consideration of value for money, including opting for programmes at least partly delivered offshore". As their preferred marketing 'model', The British Council gave the example of India where their UK India Education and Research Initiative[55] is being 'championed' by British multinational oil companies such as BP and Shell, the pharmaceutical giant GSK and arms company BAE Systems [56].

Criticism of British Council marketing efforts in this area have also come from Scotland where The Sunday Herald obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act showing that British Council's Marketing Co-ordinator in the USA had been referring to The University of Stirling as 'The University of Sterling' (sic) and also documenting 'tensions' between Scottish Executive civil servants and British Council in India and China over overseas promotion of universities in Scotland where education is a devolved responsibility. The Sunday Herald reported that these turf wars were undermining the Scottish Executive's key Fresh Talent policy [57].

After 1998 education and culture in Scotland were devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Charities registered in England (like British Council) which now wish to operate in Scotland are required to register as cross-border charities in Scotland from February 2007.

Some of the activities of British Council were examined ub 2007/08 by the National Audit Office (NAO). The NAO's report, The British Council: Achieving Impact, concluded ‘that the British Council’s performance is strong and valued by its customers and stakeholders’ [58]. It also concluded, however, that its English classes are elitist and have unfair advantages over commercial providers, as well as questioning thousands of unanswered phone-calls and e-mails to British Council offices.[59]

The NAO report had a footnote on page 5 which excluded The British Council contract work from scrutiny and evaluation: 'The main exclusion from the scope of the study was the Council's work under contract for a range of UK and International agencies, mainly in support of International Development Programmes." It went on to suggest that examination of this is unnecessary because: "Such work is won under competition and at least covers its costs overall. Primary responsibility for the value for money of the work lies with the agencies procuring it".

As part of its examination of The Foreign Office Annual Report, the Foreign Affairs Committee spends an hour each year examining witnesses from British Council but even this cursory level of scrutiny is undermined by a Commons ruling exempting MPs from the requirement to declare overseas trips paid for by The British Council.[60]

Two members of the Public Accounts Committee (Nigel Griffiths MP and Ian Davidson MP) are office-bearers in The British Council Associate Parliamentary Group.[61] Nigel Griffiths MP is Vice-Chair of this British Council lobby group.[62]

In 2008 British Council was called before the Public Accounts Committee following earlier publication of an National Audit Office report. The subsequent PAC report confirmed that Nigel Griffiths MP - Vice Chair of The British Council Associate Parliamentary Group - was part of the small number of PAC members who approve this report on British Council despite not having been recorded as being present during the evidence session - in June 2008 - where The British Council's CEO was cross-examined.[63] Mr Griffiths had earlier travelled to Russia and spoke favourably of British Council activities there in January 1998 around the time that their man in St Petersburg (Stephen Kinnock) was expelled.[64][65][66][67]

In April 2009 British Council was told to clean up its act by the Information Commissioner after losing staff data that included details of their trade union affiliations and lying about the encryption status of the computer disc lost.[68]

Historical anecdotes

Founded in 1934 as the British Committee for Relations with Other Countries, the British Council was inspired by Sir Reginald (Rex) Leeper's recognition of the importance of "cultural propaganda" in promoting British interests.

Following the accusations made against The British Council in Russia (see above) Trevor Royle, the experienced Diplomatic Editor of The Sunday Herald quoted a 'British diplomatic source' admitting: "There is a widespread assumption that The British Council is a wing of our Secret Intelligence Services, however minor. Officially it is no such thing but there are connections. Why should it be otherwise because all information is invaluable? After all, the British Council also deals with trade missions and inevitably that involves low-grade intelligence-gathering."[69]

Royle also goes on to note that the novel The Russia House by John Le Carré (former consular official David Cornwell) opens with a reference to The British Council. The organisation's "first ever audio fair for the teaching of the English language and the spread of British culture" is "grinding to its excruciating end" and one of its officials is packing away his stuff when he is approached by an attractive Russian woman to undertake clandestine delivery of a manuscript which she claims is a novel to an English publisher who she says is 'her friend'![70]

It is also featured in one of the scenes in Graham Greene's The Third Man — the character Crabbin, played by Wilfrid Hyde-White in the film, worked for The British Council. In 1946, the writer George Orwell advised serious authors not to work for it as a day-job arguing that "the effort [of writing] is too much to make if one has already squandered one's energies on semi-creative work such as teaching, broadcasting or composing propaganda for bodies such as the British Council".[71] In her autobiography, Dame Stella Rimington, the first woman head of MI5, mentions working for British Council in India prior to joining the British Intelligence Services. British Council employees also seem to feature regularly in the special section of the UK honours list reserved for those attached to overseas diplomatic postings, despite the ambiguous status of the organisation and confusion over whether they are entitled to normal diplomatic immunities in countries such as Russia. A former British Council official in Jerusalem, Emma Sky, re-emerged a few years later as the 'political and cultural advisor' to US General Raymond Odierno in Iraq despite very heavy criticism of her British Council role in Palestine. Her British Council 'PAID' project turned out to be 'non-existent' when subjected to close scrutiny - despite a request for further funds to increase the slush fund Sky and British Council were using to leverage political support behind the back of PNA Ministry of Finance and the Palestinian Legislature which was worried about donor corruption.

The strategy of "using money as a weapons system" was developed further by Sky as part of the 'Anaconda' (counter-insurgency) strategy against Al Quaida advanced by the US army. In The Gamble the embedded journalist Tom Ricks reports that Odierno and Sky's "new policy of paying off a former enemy was largely being done without informing the Baghdad government about it. 'In the initial months, we weren't even telling them [Iraqi government officials], we were just doing it,' said Emma Sky. Upon learning of the talks, she added, officials in the Baghdad government 'accused us of creating a Sunni army that could lead to warlordism and possibly to a civil war'. These were concerns that would remain alive for years." Ricks also reports that despite this long track record of insubordination Ms Sky addressed a major CIA conference on Iraq in The United States. He notes too her political hostility to the Kurds: "Judging by the frustrated mood of officials in Baghdad, it wouldn't be surprising in an Arab-Kurd showdown to see an American 'tilt' in favor of the Arabs. 'The Kurds have gotten away with everything for the last five years, taking more than they should,' Emma Sky, Odierno's political adviser, said that same month [late 2008]. 'I think the Kurds overplayed their hand and we helped them do it.'"[72][73][74][75]

The British Council has been referred to (and its man on-station, Goole) - frequently in a humorous way by Lawrence Durrell in his collection of anecdotes about a diplomat's life on foreign postings for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Antrobus Complete.[76]

Eyebrows were raised down under when British Council awarded a scholarship to the daughter of Australia's Foreign Minister.[77]

During her tenure as Chair of British Council 1998-2004, Labour Peer Baroness Helena Kennedy QC received Honorary Degrees from Leicester's De Montfort University, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Middlesex, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen University, University of Derby, University of York, Tomsk Polytechnic University, and The Judicial Academy of Russia. She has to date received a total of 28 honorary degrees.[78][79]


Chairs of the British Council have been:

Lord Kinnock will step down in July 2009.


In 2005, along with the Alliance française, the Società Dante Alighieri, the Goethe-Institut, the Instituto Cervantes and the Instituto Camões, the British Council shared in the Prince of Asturias Award for the outstanding achievements of Western Europe's national cultural agencies in communications and the humanities. At the time of this joint award the full extent of The British Council's closure policies in Europe was not yet public knowledge.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Speaker Michael Martin in secrecy row over British Council trips, Telegraph
  9. ^ British Council Annual Report 2006/2007. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  10. ^ IAESTE official website
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ English Online
  17. ^ British Council isle to open beta in teen grid tomorrow. Retrieved 13 December 2007
  18. ^ YouTube Video - British Council Isle, Second Life
  19. ^
  20. ^ Making a world of difference.
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^
  23. ^ British Council website "What is the Prime Minister's Global Fellowship?" accessed November 10, 2009
  24. ^ Foreign Affairs Committee Report, November 2007, para. 137
  25. ^ British Council, Russia. Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  26. ^ British Council - Libraries Handover. Retrieved 7th February 2008
  27. ^ Russia suspends British Council regional offices, Reuters. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  28. ^ Moscow News No 49, 2007: British Council to Close in Regions. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  29. ^ UK-Russia diplomatic row worsens, BBC News 14 January.
  30. ^ The Times Online: Neil Kinnock's Son Held by Police.
  31. ^ House of Commons Publications and Records: 20th March 2008.
  32. ^ Russia row offices 'to stay shut', BBC News, 17 January 2008.
  33. ^ British Council suspends work in St. Petersburg - 2, RIA Novosti, 16 January 2008.
  34. ^ British Council In Court Over Tax Bill - St Petersburg Times, 20th June 2008.
  35. ^ "British Council hit by Russia tax bill". Daily Telegraph.  
  36. ^ "Press Release". World Economic Forum.  
  37. ^ [3].
  38. ^ Athens library, Hansard 27 June 2007
  39. ^ New Profile
  40. ^ The Hindu : Kerala / Thiruvananthapuram News : British Library writes its epilogue
  41. ^ Neil Kinnock at the Edinburgh Festival of Politics, (from about 36-42 minutes into the streaming video clip and the question/answer from about 62 minutes in)
  42. ^ Lords Hansard text, English language advisory services in Peru were moved first to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil then repatriated back to London HQ. Hansard Column WA130, 26 June 2006
  43. ^ 'Outcry as British Council quits Europe to woo Muslim world' by Helena Smith, Athens The Observer, 5 August 2007
  44. ^ West Jerusalem library closure
  45. ^ Gaza library Powerpoint presentation
  46. ^ from quitting, British Council is bridging gaps, letter to The Observer, 12 August 2007
  47. ^ Institut Francais de l'Ecosse
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^ Other Lander offices closed
  52. ^ Lobbying example
  53. ^ Sponsoring Department in Hansard 25 June 2007
  54. ^ Promoting higher education in China
  55. ^ UK India Education and Research Initiative
  56. ^ BAe Systems investigation The Boston Globe 27 June 2007
  57. ^ Feuds and turf wars put Fresh Talent flagship plan in jeopardy The Sunday Herald 30 October 2005
  58. ^ The British Council: Achieving Impact National Audit Office 9 June 2008
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^ "Horizon Questionnaire: The Cost of Letters", in Horizon, 1946
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^
  76. ^ Durrell L (1985) Antrobus Complete, 202pp, Faber & Faber, ISBN 0-571-13603-6.
  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^

External links

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