THE BRITISH COUNCIL CANT REPRESENT UK EDUCATION INTERESTS AND COMPETE WITH THEM AT THE SAME TIME

Martin Davidson  of the British Council (BC),  a subsidised quango that is  supposed to represent UK education abroad ,in a letter to ‘Education Investor ‘this month  wrote interalia:

‘We believe that our mission is to support and promote the UK and UK institutions and aim to do that professionally and in partnership with others. However we are also aware that we will sometimes compete with other providers as well as collaborate.’

Unsurprisingly given this  admission and  what they have encountered in the market,   UK Education providers  say that this is a clear example of a conflict of interests.

How does the BC decide when  to compete with a provider and when to  collaborate? How can  other providers  trust an organisation that at one minute claims to represent them (using taxpayers money) and at another competes against them for contracts?  What criteria does the BC use to decide when to compete and when to collaborate? Providers are not aware of any published criteria or code of conduct to inform this process- so how exactly  does the BC decide? And how much information does it  withhold from its competitors in order  to  secure an advantage for itself  and its perceived commercial interests?

That these questions have to be asked (The BC doesnt  have credible  answers to them,  by the way)  demonstrates that the British Council  is not fit for purpose in its role as the  representative of UK education interests abroad.

One further question arises.How would the BC fare in the market if  it competed on a level playing field , deprived of its subsidies, and  without any political patronage protecting it? That is, of course,  one question to which  we all  know the answer .

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2 thoughts on “THE BRITISH COUNCIL CANT REPRESENT UK EDUCATION INTERESTS AND COMPETE WITH THEM AT THE SAME TIME

  1. I couldn’t agree more. My own experience has been that the British Council thinks it’s OK to cooperate and to compete at the same time. During the life of a cooperative agreement, an exclusive cooperative agreement, the British Council signed a competing agreement in which they had a financial interest. It is a shabby organisation, lacking in principle and direction, and has no right to taxpayers’ money.

  2. In the 1990s, at a British Council office overseas where I worked, out of the blue we received a brand new, large black Samsonite briefcase stuffed with leaflets and a letter explaining this was ‘materials to promote UK education’ and that the briefcase was to ‘impress people we visited’. The truth: it was March, and someone in London needed to blow an unused portion of their budget – sending briefcase to dozens of locations around the world will have blown a few thousand, quickly. In their appraisal they will have given it a fancy label to look dead clever and will have reported to the FCO as a well thought-out and planned scheme.

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