Memorandum from the British Council
1. Global uncertainty, the breakdown of
trust between nations and the rise of fear and intolerance in
many countries pose fresh challenges for both international and
cultural relations at the start of the 21st century.
2. 11 September and its aftermath have reinforced
the case for investing in dialogue between nations and cultures.
Simultaneously, there is a greater need than ever to win recognition
abroad for the UK's values, ideas and achievements and to build
lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with other countries.
3. In a world where "people to people"
diplomacy is of increasing importance, the British Council provides
a unique means of promoting dialogue and mutual understanding,
and of demonstrating the creativity of a contemporary United Kingdom
to wider sets of influential audiences abroad.
TO 11 SEPTEMBER
4. Following 11 September, the British Council
fundamentally reassessed its work in countries with large Arab
and Muslim populations. We set out to see how we could start to
tackle the dangerous gulf in understanding developing between
people of differing cultures.
5. As a consequence, we launched a new initiative
called Connecting Futures, which aims to build understanding between
young people of different faiths and cultures, starting with ten
priority countries with predominately Muslim populations. We have
re-prioritised £2 million annually for the next four years
to implement this new strategic approach, over and above the resources
already committed in the 33 countries with large Muslim populations
where we currently operate.
6. We have undertaken detailed research
among 5,000 young people aged between 15 and 24 to find out their
views of the UK and other countries and to assess their own aspirations.
This researchalong with the views of young people from
the priority countries participating in a youth forum held earlier
this yearwill form the basis for a range of co-operative
projects for the future.
7. We have brought groups from each of the
priority countries to work with youth groups in ten UK cities
and towns with large diaspora communities, giving the opportunity
to young people from socially excluded areas to start a dialogue
with their counterparts from other cultural backgrounds.
8. We have completed a scooping mission
to Kabul to explore re-establishing services in Afghanistan to
complement FCO/DFID work in reconstruction, building on our experience
of working in post-conflict situations in Bosnia and Kosovo.
9. In both Bangladesh and Pakistan, we are
engaging with madrassa schools, providing consultancies including
research into curricula, the use of English and IT, sport and
science in a religious based school systems, along with training
for head teachers.
10. Above all, in difficult circumstances
in Pakistan, we kept operating when our analogues closed. At the
height of the tension, we were still delivering 20,000 examinations
during October and November during the height of the tension over
11. In a more volatile international climate,
public diplomacy requires that cultural relations organisations
find innovative ways of reaching a critical mass of public opinion
internationally with favourable images and messages about the
12. Since 2000, we have been reshaping our
network, investing in people, partnerships and new technologies
precisely to address the aspirations and interests of younger,
wider audiences internationally.
13. We are engaging new generations of young
people through innovative means. The Selector radio series, syndicated
in thirteen countries, brings contemporary UK music to audiences
of millions. The award-winning Football Culture website reaches
new audiences internationally by linking their interest in sport
with issues of social inclusion, tolerance and acceptance of diversity.
We integrate our work promoting UK education overseas to younger
audiences with contemporary arts with club DJs/VJs and festivals
such as Fuji Rock in Japan.
14. In geographical terms, we are expanding
our operations in China and Russia, with significant benefits
to the UK, while shifting resources into transitional countries
in Central and Eastern Europe.
15. We are building an IT-based network
of 50 Knowledge and Learning Centres across the globe to link
millions of people internationally through Internet and video-conferencing
facilities, providing them with learning opportunities and creative
ideas from the UK. We have also opened our first call centre for
educational enquiries in Madrid, in partnership with the British
16. We have worked in partnership with government
departments, and educational institutions to attract more international
students to the United Kingdom, managing the Education UK brand
under the Prime Minister's Initiative. This initiative is on track
to meet ambitious targets for increasing the number of self-funded
students despite fierce international competition.
17. In undertaking these changes, we have
fulfilled our commitments made in the last spending review and
shown our capacity to meet the public diplomacy objective of improving
foreign perceptions of the UK.
18. These changes provide a platform to
address the challenges of the post-11 September international
environment. We need now to reach out to new audiences, engaging
with new young audiences outside formal education systems, not
traditionally involved in public diplomacy work, so that we can
seek greater understanding and foster dialogue between nations
19. The British Council's status, with an
arm-length's relationship with government, gives us the ability
to create synergy from our grant-funded activities and revenue-funded
programmes. We are increasingly being viewed as a role model for
cultural relations work around the world.
20. President Chirac of France, for example,
has proposed establishing cultural relations agency on the lines
of the British Council, while both the Irish and the Austrians
are actively considering adopting the UK model.
21. The synergy we bring to our grant-funded
work and our paid services increases our impact and our reach.
By combining the FCO grant-in-aid of £145 million a year
with our teaching of English, delivery of UK examinations and
wider project work from commercially-tendered contracts, we have
succeeded in adding an extra £288 million a year to its activities.
22. Our work in paid services vastly increases
our engagement with young people around the world, offering both
quality services which people want and a gateway to the wider
range of activity.
23. Our work in agency contracts, worth
£60 million a year, delivers greater impact and provides
wider leverage for the UK is areas covered by our activities,
such as education, governance and the English language.
24. We are increasingly basing our work
and activities on methodologies with indicators which measure
impact, reputation, customer satisfaction and target audiences'
perceptions of the UK. Undertaking attitude surveys on perceptions
of the young about the UKmost recently in predominantly
Arab and Muslim countriesand understanding the factors
which influence the choice of students studying abroad are two
examples of the kind of market research undertaken by the British
25. We are committed to working with other
public diplomacy partners. We believe the UK's public diplomacy
effort can be enhanced by working more closely together, while
recognising the different strengths and approaches of organisations
across the spectrum of public diplomacy. Our role in managing
the Prime Minister's Initiative on international students demonstrates
that commitment and the capacity to carry it out where it matters
2003-04 TO 2005-06
26. Our proposals for the three years covered
by the current spending review are aimed at reinforcing the UK's
effort to promote international stability in an increasingly uncertain
27. They primarily support the FCO's public
diplomacy objective to improve "positive foreign perceptions
of the UK". They also contribute to the FCO's objectives
on security, trade, development, quality of life and the European
28. Connecting Futures represents
a strategic reappraisal of the impact the British Council seeks
to achieve in countries with substantial Muslim populations. The
11 September attacks on the USA and subsequent events have highlighted
the breakdown in understanding between different communities,
and have shown an urgent need for cultural dialogue to be brought
centre stage as a means of reducing the potential for future conflict.
In particular, they demonstrate the need for the UK to understand
and engage more directly with a wider representation of young
people in predominantly Muslim countries. The Council, with its
focus on young people and work in education, English teaching,
the arts, sport, science and human rights, is ideally placed to
perform this role.
29. The Connecting Futures initiative
is focusing initially on 10 countries (Egypt, Palestinian territories,
Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria,
Turkey and Iran). We are seeking to reach a wider young audience
of students, young professionals, potential leaders within their
communities, those in non-formal education and in work. We are
concentrating initially on 16 to 25 year olds, but will later
broaden the range to start at a younger age when resources permit.
30. The programme aims to:
create opportunities for young people
to meet, exchange ideas and work on co-operative projects to increase
their understanding both of shared interests and cultural differences
work with influencers of public opinion
in target countries and the UK to build a climate of understanding
of cultures and their differences
build new relationships between the
British Council and diaspora communities in the UK, with a view
to enhancing the impact of programmes in priority countries.
31. In addition to these activities, we
plan to re-establish directorates in Afghanistan and Algeria,
to open a new directorate in Tajikistan, and to create two Centres
for English Language Learning Support in the Middle East and Central
32. As a result of the Connecting Futures
initiative, significant numbers of young people previously outside
the reach of the Council's programmes will be brought into contact
with the UK and exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking. In
the long term, the initiative will help to build enduring relationships
between the UK and countries with substantial Muslim populations,
reducing the potential for conflict arising from cultural differences.
33. The UK is committed to supporting the
New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which aims to
give new impetus to reform and development in the continent by
creating a step change in the way that African and developed countries
engage with each other. The Council, through our work in developing
future leaders, strengthening civil society and providing access
to educational opportunities from the UK, will complement the
work of the FCO and DfID in the region, and help to create the
environment in which NEPAD can succeed. Funding is sought for
programmes aimed at nurturing open and accountable government,
providing support for teachers and learners of English, and facilitating
networks between young professionals. The Council also proposes
to establish directorates in Côte d'Ivoire and Angola in
support of UK political and commercial interests in francophone
and lusophone Africa.
34. We propose to enhance our programmes
in countries beyond the post-2004 EU Schengen borders in order
to build understanding and co-operation between these countries
and the UK, and to strengthen their commitment to the systems
and values of the EU. This in turn will contribute to reducing
the risks that these countries still pose to the security and
prosperity of the EU. The proposals include the opening of regional
centres in Kaliningrad, Nanja Luka and Sevastopol to support NGO
capacity building in conflict resolution and to promote civil
society initiatives. A new directorate will also be opened in
Moldova with a focus on English language, education reform and
strengthening civil society.
35. This proposal builds on two successful
initiatives launched by the Council with funding from the 2000
Spending Reviewthe development of a network of IT-based
knowledge and learning centres (KLCs) and the establishment of
a Centre for English Language Learning Support in China. Both
projects represent important vehicles for modernising the delivery
of the Council's services and shaping the perceptions of the UK
among wider, younger audiences. The Council plans to create a
further ten KLCs and to establish two CELLS in Latin America and
Russia. This will enable Council services to reach an additional
300,000 young professionals in key countries.
36. The Council is committed to working
with the DfES and other UK partners on the implementation of the
Prime Minister's Initiative, which aims to build long-term sustainable
relations between the UK and other countries through educationparticularly
by increasing the number of fee-paying international students.
The Council proposes to strengthen the PMI by developing programmes
to promote UK distance learning and overseas-delivered courses,
to strengthen alumni networks and to increase the market for "study
abroad" courses in the UK. The new promotional activities
will generate some £60 million per year additional revenue
for the UK and will significantly increase the number of young
people exposed to UK ideas and values.
37. The Council proposes to exploit the
UK's international reputation in the creative industries to generate
mutually beneficial relationships between the UK and key countries
in Central Europe, East Asia and Latin America. The programme,
which will involve market research, workshops and promotional
events, will position the UK as a source of expertise and preferred
partner in the development of the creative industries, helping
to increase creative industries exports (currently worth £10.2
billion a year) and to enhance perceptions of UK creativity.
38. We plan to modernise our financial systems
over the next five years by implementing a standard integrated
business system platform throughout our global network. The new
Finance and Business Systems (FBAS) will enable the Council to
improve radically the quality of services provided to customers
by exploiting developments such as e-business and web-enabled
service delivery. We will also provide an opportunity to re-engineer
business processes throughout the organisation, making them more
efficient and effective. When fully implemented, FABS is expected
to generate cost savings of £4 million a year.
39. The effectives of the Council's operations
in many countries depends on being accessible to the public. However,
the threat of terrorist attacks on Council offices has increased
significantly since the events of 11 September. We are seeking
funding to improve security for staff and visitors throughout
our overseas network, and to build new, secure premises in Islamabad.
40. We are seeking additional funding amounting
to £57.6 million over the three years of the Spending Review
period (see table below):
|per cent increase
41. These proposals include £11.6 million of capital
expenditure, approximately half of which falls in 2003-04.
42. As part of our 2005 strategy, we have initiated a
substantial re-prioritisation of resources in order to maximise
the impact and effectiveness of its work. Over the next five years,
a total of £17.9 million will be released from lower priority
areas of activity and re-directed towards work on new or enhanced
programmes and services. A new evaluation strategy is also being
introduced to provide more reliable data to inform decisions on
the re-prioritisation of resources.
43. A total of £9 million (5.6 per cent of the Council's
2003-04 baseline) will be redeployed over the Spending Review
period. This figure is made up of £5.8 million moved from
lower priority overseas directorates and £3.2 million released
from expenditure on staff re-structuring. These resources will
be used to fund increased operational programmes in high priority
countries and the development of new programmes and services,
especially IT-based services aimed at reaching younger, wider
44. The Council's proposals are aimed at ensuring we
remain capable of responding effectively to changing governmental
priorities, while continuing to modernise programmes and improve
the quality of services offered to customers. These represent
a strategic investment in the Council's future as an organisation
that is ideally placed to win influence for the UK by nurturing
dialogue and mutually beneficial partnerships with other countries.
The British Council
OPM adjustments not included in baseline figure Back