|Founder(s)||United Kingdom Government|
|Key people||Vernon Ellis (Chair)
Martin Davidson (Chief Executive)
|Product(s)||British cultural and language education|
|Revenue||£982 million (2007/6)[dated info]|
The British Council is a British organisation specialising in international educational and cultural opportunities. It is registered as a charity both in England and Wales, and in Scotland. Founded in 1934 as the British Committee for Relations with Other Countries, and granted a royal charter by King George VI in 1940, the British Council was inspired by Sir Reginald (Rex) Leeper's recognition of the importance of "cultural propaganda" in promoting British interests. 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.
The British Council's 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 over 100 countries and territories. It has headquarters in Spring Gardens, near Whitehall in Central London. There are other branch offices in Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester and Edinburgh.
In June 2009 it was announced that 400-500 jobs at the British Council would be shed[dated info] as part of wider restructuring of the organisation which was reported to involve outsourcing back-office jobs overseas and a further centralisation of its regional operation across the United Kingdom.
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.".
In October 2011 the UK Treasury Select Committee Member Labour MP John Mann described The British Council as 'a nonsense of an organisation to sustain' and called for its abolition. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2048545/Whitehall-departments-leave-London-save-sky-high-office-costs-says-MP.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
The impetus for what became the British Council arose in the Foreign Office during the late 1920s when the official cultural organisations of the French, Germans and Italians were being quite successful. Together with some like-minded individuals they created the "British Committee for Relations with Other Countries" in 1934. The word "committee" was quickly dropped and it became the "British Council for Relations with Other Countries". Initially the committee's work focused on two areas, support for English education abroad and promulgation of British culture through lecture tours, musical troupes and art exhibitions. The first geographic area to be targeted was the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, followed by the poorer countries in Europe and then Latin America. In 1936, the organisation's name was officially shortened to the "British Council". The council worked out of the various British consulates, but then began opening its own offices in various countries, starting with Egypt in 1938. The overseas associates of the British Council collected information about local conditions, opportunities and openness to British initiates, which information was compiled in London. These "information" functions were transferred to the newly recreated Ministry of Information in 1939 at the start of World War II.
During the war most offices in Europe and the Middle East were closed, except in neutral Sweden, Portugal and Spain. Instead, educational opportunities were provided in the refugee camps within Britain, and for Allied servicemen stationed there. In 1939 the "Resident Foreigners Division" was established to manage those services. By the end of the war there were British Council assistance centres in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford, Stratford-on-Avon, and Wilton in England, Edinburgh and Leith in Scotland, and Cardiff in Wales, as well as a centre for the Society for Visiting Scientists and an Allied Lawyers' Foyer. In 1940 a Royal Charter was granted to the British Council by King George VI. After the war, the British Council focused on Europe, but due to lack of funds, closed its offices in many other places. In August 1944, after the liberation of Paris, Austin Gill was sent by the council to reestablish the Paris office, which soon had tours by the Old Vic company, Julian Huxley and T. S. Eliot. As refugees returned home, about half of the inland centres were closed, but the rest undertook the new mission of providing support for foreign students and short-term visitors.
After the reconstruction efforts, funding from the Foreign Office declined, and the British Council was forced to pull out of a number of countries for political reasons, including most of Eastern Europe, China, and Persia. Overall the world-wide network deteriorated. The raison d'etre for the British Council came under attack in a series of four government review commissions which produced the Drogheda, Hill, Vosper and Duncan Reports, respectively. The British Council survived, but with a lower profile. In 1943-4, the Bland Report that emerged from a Foreign Office review of postwar intelligence needs and organisation concluded the best prospects of 'cover' for intelligence activity "would come from 'the creation of small businesses which would in fact be solely run in the interests of the SIS'; the recruitment of established British businessmen who ran their own private concerns and would 'have no-one to fear in the shape of a board of directors in London'; and 'the obtaining of cover from semi-national and often non-profit making British institutions with offices in foreign countries.' These could include British railway companies or the British Overseas Airways Corporation. Another possibility was the British Council, though it was somewhat grumpily noted that the Council had 'never been ready in the past to lend the smallest assistance to the SIS.'.
The role of British Council in Burma in 1947 came under scrutiny with release of classified documents to a BBC investigation by journalist Feargal Keane into the role of dissident British colonial officials in the assassination of the then Burmese independence leader Aung San (father of Aung San Su Kyi) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3huRoNnq2A&feature=share . The BBC programme quoted from a 1948 document sent by the Chief of Police in Rangoon to the British Ambassador stating their belief that there had been British involvement in the assassination of Aung San and his Cabinet for which one of his political opponents was hanged and that 'the go-between' had been a British Council official named in the programme.
In August 2011 a journalist from The Irish Times discovered a certificate dated 2007 issued by The British Council in Tripoli to a daughter of President Gadaffi who had previously been said to have been killed in a US raid on Gadaffi's residence in 1986. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8725024/Libya-Hana-Gaddafi-alive-and-well.html
2000s and later 
In late 2007 the Council ran into difficulties in Russia, when the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered them to close their two offices outside Moscow. The Ministry alleged that they had violated Russian tax regulations, a move that British officials claimed was a retaliation over the British expulsion of Russian diplomats allegedly involved with the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. This caused the Council to cease carrying out all English Language examinations in Russia from January 2008. The tax case was still in the Russian courts as of December 2008.
Expenses controversy 
Conservative MP Mark Lancaster, now Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, the then Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin, and other MPs were involved in rows over expenses incurred on undisclosed taxpayer-funded British Council trips.
In June 2010 British Council Chief Executive Martin Davidson faced press criticism for expenses claimed in apparent breach of British Council's own internal rules for overnight stays in London.
On 19 August 2011, suicide attackers stormed the British Council office in the Afghanistan capital, Kabul, killing at least 12 people – none of them British – and taking over the compound. The British Council office has been relocated to the British Embassy compound after the British Council compound was destroyed in the suicide attack.
There are 70 British Council Teaching Centres in 53 countries. It taught 1,189,000 class hours to 300,000 learners in 2006/07[dated info] . The British Council claims to be 'the world's largest English language teaching organisation.'
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.
In July 2011 the Hong Kong edition of China Daily reported on the flourishing 'ghost-writing' industry that critics suggest has sprung up around the British Council IELTS tests in China: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/hkedition/2011-07/14/content_12898594.htm
A major IELTS corruption scandal in Western Australia resulted in prosecutions in November 2011. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/tenth-court-case-after-inquiry-into-curtin-ielts-scam/story-e6frgcjx-1226184963752
In schools in England, the British Council is working with the Department for Education 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.
In January 2012 the press in Pakistan reported that the Federal Investigations Agency was investigating a British Council visa scam associated with their 'Connecting Classrooms' programme. http://tribune.com.pk/story/315761/human-trafficking-fia-to-probe-fake-visa-case-involving-british-council/
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 and offers students, studying in the UK, the opportunity to take an internship as part of an international placement working abroad.
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. For many companies in industries which are currently experiencing a shortage of graduates e.g. electronic engineering, this can provide an important source of labour.
Sports programmes 
On playing fields in 40 countries the British Council hopes that young people have learned new leadership and team-building skills by being involved in "Dreams+Teams" sports festivals. This 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".
In April 2011, fifty football coaches from Israel were trained in Israeli-Arab coexistence skills as part of the Football 4 Peace programme, in the UK, so that they will be able to run Football 4 Peacecamps during the summer in Israel. It was developed by the British Council, the Israel Sports Authority, the University of Brighton in the UK and the Sports University in Cologne, Germany and is funded by the European Union. Coaches from Jordan and Ireland are also part of this programme. The Chelsea School of Sport, part of the University of Brighton, hosts the program.
English for peace 
"Peacekeeping English" 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 through the Peacekeeping English Project (PEP). PEP is helping train approximately 50,000 military and police service personnel in 28 countries worldwide, amongst them Libya, Ethiopia and Georgia. The Peacekeeping English Project is managed by the British Council and funded by the UK government global conflict prevention fund.
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 already has over 30,000 members. English Online has social networking functionality as well as a range of podcasts for English learners - .
In 2011, the British Council launched a new global website for IELTS test takers called 'Take IELTS'. The site provides IELTS test takers with: information on the structure of IELTS; advice on how to register for the test; a range of free preparation material and access to video content. - .
The Selector 
The Selector is a weekly two-hour radio show, which is sponsored by the British Council. Originally launched in 2001, The Selector is an international showcase for the best new music the United Kingdom has to offer, covering a variety of genres from indie, dubstep, folk, soul, hip hop and more. The show features interviews, guest DJ mixes and exclusive live sessions from some of the UK’s most exciting artists. The Selector presents an overview of all that is exciting and fresh in British music. It avoids many mainstream acts, in favour of emerging talent and underground styles. The show reflects the brilliance and diversity of British music, promoting the musical culture of modern Britain to an international audience. The underlying aim of The Selector is to challenge people's perceptions of the UK and to showcase the wealth of creativity and innovation the UK has to offer.
With an audience estimated to be in excess of 3 million listeners, The Selector is syndicated to 33 countries around the world including Mexico, China, Colombia, Israel, Poland, Malawi, Hungary, Indonesia & Bulgaria.
The English version of The Selector is presented by Goldierocks and aired in numerous non-anglophone countries around the world. The show is also syndicated in a kit form, allowing non-English speaking presenters to create unique versions of The Selector in their native language. In Indonesia for example, The Selector occupies a section on the popular Now Generation show, presented by Dewi Hanafi on Trax101.4FM in Jakarta. The show is also sometimes recorded overseas – In 2010 it was recorded together with partner stations in Mexico, Mauritius and Kazakhstan.
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 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. The project's aim is to allow youth ambassadors to spread awareness about climate change's effects and mitigation solutions in their own communities.
British Council UK joined the 10:10 project to help them reduce their carbon footprint. One year later they announced that they had reduced their carbon emissions (according to 10:10's criteria) by 26%.
'Love's Labours Lost" - British Council-supported Shakespearean play in Afghanistan 
The British Council-supported production of Love's Labours 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 British Council claims that 'the capacity audience responded enthusiastically to the eternal and universal themes of Shakespeare’s play and to the local references and music'. By 2010 however the emphasis of British Council activity in Afghanistan had shifted according to the Council's Director in Kabul Paul Smith who had blogged:
" I can’t recall much from my induction day into the British Council in September 1983, apart from being issued with my official British Council briefcase (marker penned 13/1983/Smith) by a man in a brown overall and having sherry with the Director General at 6pm prompt. However, I do remember the strict rule, in the day’s first session, that British Council officers should be active in any area of social, education or cultural life except ‘the strictly no-go areas of religion, politics and defence’. And so we dilettante cultural attachés set off to skirt our way around so much that really matters in people’s lives. Well, the international crises of our new millennium have clearly proved that culture, in the broadest sense, is central to geopolitics. Surely we must be convinced now that, if we don’t do politics and we don’t do religion, then we don’t really do culture properly. We can be ideologically neutral and still facilitate the crucial talk and action about global issues amongst world faiths and power structures. So, religion – check, politics – check. But, hold on, defence? Militarism? Guns and bombs? It’s been an enlightening experience for me to find that programmes of military English are core to the work of the British Council in Afghanistan." http://blog.britishcouncil.org/2010/11/teaching-military-english-in-kabul/
In August 2011 British Council in Afghanistan - which had been involved in language training for the Afghani airforce - was attacked and its offices destroyed. http://blog.britishcouncil.org/2011/04/afghanistan-graduating-with-flying-colours/ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14585563
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, International Young Design Entrepreneur of the Year and International Young Music Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
The YCE award programme is divided into two strands: one for international creative entrepreneurs from emerging economies, and another one for UK creative entrepreneurs, such as UK Young Publishing Entrepreneur Awards.
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 Education. The British Council administers training for the 100 fellows each year, delivers the programme in each country and is involved in co-ordinating their activities upon their return. (For more information, see main article The Prime Minister's Global Fellowship.)
Israel and Palestine 
The British Council has been a primary partner of the Palestine Festival of Literature since the Festival's beginning in 2008. In 2009, the Israeli police, acting on a court order, closed down the venue scheduled to host the Festival's closing event since there was Palestinian Authority involvement, but the British Council stepped in and the evening was relocated to its grounds.
The British Council supports the festival, also known as PalFest. A controversial issue arose in 2012, because PalFest's website states that they endorse the "2004 Palestinian call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel". Susanna Nicklin, the council's director of literature said in response, "The British Council is a non-political organisation, and we believe that international cultural exchange makes a powerful contribution to a more peaceful, tolerant and prosperous world. Therefore the British Council does not support cultural or academic boycotts."
British Council Condemned by English PEN And Others Over Exclusion of Dissident Chinese Writers from 2012 London Book Fair
In April 2012 British Council faced a storm of protest over the exclusion of dissident Chinese writers from 2012 The London Book Fair. Critics included English PEN and journalist Nick Cohen writing in 'The Observer' - as well as Alastair Niven a former Literature Director of The British Council itself. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/15/nick-cohen-china-censorship-writers http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/apr/13/london-book-fair-china-censorship http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2012/apr/22/observer-letters-british-council-china
Former British Council Literature Director Alastair Niven wrote in response to Nick Cohen's article in 'The Observer':
" While it is always good to try to understand the mindset of another culture, it is surely one step too far for the council to appear to endorse the state censorship and absolute constraints upon open debate that prevail in China. Chinese authors who do not conform to state policy are banned and/or imprisoned.
Some years ago, a few of these, now obliged to live in exile, toured this country under the wing of Arts Council England. What the British Council, in its search for business contacts in China, does not appear to appreciate is that writers and opinion formers throughout the free world will judge it by appearances and regard it as an organisation that is prepared to sacrifice to expediency the value for which this country is most respected – freedom of expression.
I write as a former director of literature at the British Council and past president of English Pen. I can hardly believe that the two bodies are no longer singing from the same hymn sheet and fear that it will take years for the British Council to get over the kind of headline accompanying Nick Cohen's justifiably outraged article."
Further Criticism 
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.[dated info] 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 and in Belgrade are also to close. Similarly in India, the British Council Libraries at Bhopal and Trivandrum were closed despite protests from library users 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 the British Council Library in Mumbai 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 Persian Gulf area. 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 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. In Italy British Council closed its offices in Turin and Bologna, and reduced the size of offices in Milan and Rome (with the closure of the library in the latter).
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.
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 the British Council closed there and shut down the British Council library in West Jerusalem. 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. In Oslo British Council informs Norwegian callers that 'our office is not open to the public and we do not have an enquiry service'. Goethe Institute also has a more visible presence in Glasgow than the British Council. There is now, in contrast, only one British Council office left in Germany - and that is in Berlin.
The effectiveness of British Council efforts to promote higher education in China was examined in the UK by the House of Commons Select Committee on Education and Skills in a report issued in August 2007. It expressed concern that in terms of joint educational programmes involving Chinese universities, the UK lagged behind Australia, USA, Hong Kong, 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 is being 'championed' by British multinational oil companies such as BP and Shell, the pharmaceutical giant GSK and arms company BAE Systems.
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 the 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.
Some of the activities of the British Council were examined in 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’. 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.
As part of its examination of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report, the Foreign Affairs Committee spends an hour each year examining witnesses from the British Council but even this level of scrutiny is undermined by a Commons ruling exempting MPs from the requirement to declare overseas trips paid for by The British Council.
Two members of the Public Accounts Committee (Nigel Griffiths MP and Ian Davidson MP) were office-bearers in the British Council Associate Parliamentary Group. Nigel Griffiths MP was Vice-Chair of this British Council lobby group until stepping down as an MP following a sex scandal on House of Commons premises being exposed by a Sunday newspaper.
In 2008 the British Council was called before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) following earlier publication of a 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 approved this report on the British Council despite not having been recorded as being present during the evidence session - in June 2008 - where the British Council's Chief Executive was cross-examined. 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.
In April 2009 the 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.
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."
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.
In literature 
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'!
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". 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.
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.
In the authorised history of MI6: The History of The Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 by Keith Jeffery, the role of 'The British Council, as potential cover' is mentioned in the index along with references to The Bland Commission of 1944 - and correspondence with Rex Leeper, British Council's founder.
Previous chairs of the British Council have been:
- 1934–1937 Lord Tyrrell
- 1937–1941 Lord Lloyd
- 1941–1945 Sir Malcolm Robertson
- 1946–1955 Sir Ronald Adam
- 1955–1959 Sir David Kelly
- 1959–1967 Lord Bridges
- 1968–1971 Lord Fulton
- 1971–1972 Sir Leslie Rowan
- 1972–1976 Lord Ballantrae
- 1977–1984 Sir Charles Troughton
- 1985–1992 Sir David Orr
- 1992–1998 Sir Martin Jacomb
- 1998–2004 Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
- 2004–2009 Lord Kinnock
- 2010–present Sir Vernon Ellis
See also 
- Jessica Shepherd,'I want to see education stay at the very heart of what we do', Times Higher Education Supplement, 17 November 2006
- Monocle Issue 26 volume 3 September 2009
- Lee, Muna (edited by Cohen, Jonathan) (2004) A pan-American life: selected poetry and prose of Muna Lee University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin, page 268, ISBN 0-299-20230-5
- "1930s and 1940s - British Council - History" British Council webpage
- Donaldson, Frances Lonsdale (1984) The British Council: The First Fifty Years J. Cape, London, page 1, ISBN 0-224-02041-2
- "Allied centres - 1940s - When - British Council - History" British Council webpage
- C.A.H. (1990) "Austin Gill (1906–1990)" French Studies 44(4): pp. 501–502, page 501, doi; 10.1093/fs/XLIV.4.501
- "1950s and 1960s - British Council - History" British Council webpage
- Jeffrey, Keith (2010). MI6: The History Of The Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949. Crown Copyright.
- Fitzgerald, Mary. "Gadafy daughter who 'died' in 1986 alive". Irish Times. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
- Russia actions 'stain reputation', BBC News, 17 January 2008.
- Harding, Luke (December 12, 2007) "Russia tells British Council to shut offices". The Guardian. Accessed January 25, 2012.
- "Exams in Russia". British Council. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
- "British Council hit by Russia tax bill". London: Daily Telegraph. 27 December 2008. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
- Speaker Michael Martin in secrecy row over British Council trips, Telegraph
- Emma Rowley (2010-05-19). "British Council boss defends £4,600 hotel expenses - News - London Evening Standard". Thisislondon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- "Attack on British Council compound in Kabul kills eight". BBC News. 19 August 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
- British Council "British Council back to work in Afghanistan one week after deadly attacks" 30th August 2011
- British Council Annual Report 2006/2007. Retrieved 13 December 2007. Archived February 27, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "British Council launches portfolio of new English teaching and learning services at TESOL Arabia 2009 in Dubai - Business Intelligence Middle East - bi-me.com - News, analysis, reports". bi-me.com. 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- IAESTE official website
- Sports coaches from Israel travel to UK for training
- English Online
- British Council isle to open beta in teen grid tomorrow. Retrieved 13 December 2007
- YouTube Video - British Council Isle, Second Life
- Take IELTS with British Council
- "Young Creative Entrepreneur Programme | Creative Entrepreneurship | Creative and Cultural Economy | British Council". Creativeconomy.britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- Making a world of difference.
- British Council website "What is the Prime Minister's Global Fellowship?" accessed November 10, 2009
- BBC News
- British Council: no support for boycott aims of Palestinian festival
- Athens library, Hansard 27 June 2007
- New Profile
- "British Library writes its epilogue". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 7 December 2007.
- 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)
- 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
- 'Outcry as British Council quits Europe to woo Muslim world' by Helena Smith, Athens The Observer, 5 August 2007
- West Jerusalem library closure
- Gaza library Powerpoint presentation
- from quitting, British Council is bridging gaps, letter to The Observer, 12 August 2007
- Other Lander offices closed
- Sponsoring Department in Hansard 25 June 2007
- Promoting higher education in China
- UK India Education and Research Initiative
- BAe Systems investigation The Boston Globe 27 June 2007
- Feuds and turf wars put Fresh Talent flagship plan in jeopardy The Sunday Herald 30 October 2005
- The British Council: Achieving Impact National Audit Office 9 June 2008
- "Horizon Questionnaire: The Cost of Letters", in Horizon, 1946
- Durrell L (1985) Antrobus Complete, 202pp, Faber & Faber, ISBN 0-571-13603-6.
- [dead link]
- Britishcouncil.org, accessed 4 April 2011
- Britishcouncil.org, accessed 4 April 2011
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- British Council official website
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