The British Council has welcomed the publication of the Triennial Review report by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
The review looked at the British Council and its work for the UK. The process was thorough and involved a detailed examination of the British Council’s operations, governance, performance and finances. This has been the most in-depth and detailed external appraisal of the organisation since the 1970s.
Sir Vernon Ellis, Chair of the British Council, commented on the review:
“We are pleased that the review has recognised the importance of the British Council’s work in making a significant contribution to the UK's prosperity, security and international standing. The review found that the British Council has programmes building influence for the UK, has committed staff, demonstrates many examples of excellence and innovation across its global network, and is forward looking and responsive to the changing international environment.
“While we welcome the review’s conclusions about the contribution the British Council makes to the UK, we agree that our significant growth and the increased importance and complexity of our relations with government and other stakeholders has given rise to a number of important issues that need to be addressed.”
The review records the views of many stakeholders on the need to improve transparency, accountability and fair competition policy in order to address issues arising from the significant growth in the British Council’s earned income. Its recommendations include the need for the British Council to continue to strengthen its connections with the UK government departments, the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and with UK organisations overseas. The review also recommends that there is a focussed second stage to the review to consider what the best long-term operating model for the organisation is. Starting this month, the second stage review will, when completed, make recommendations to the Foreign Secretary about the costs and benefits of possible changes to the structure, subsidiaries and governance of the British Council to further enhance benefit to the UK.
Sir Vernon added: “We are looking carefully at the review and will be working closely with the FCO on the implementation of the recommendations. We recognise the concerns which have been raised and have already started to take action on several of its main themes. Our aim is to ensure we continue to build trust in and for the UK around the world through our work in the Arts, Education and the English language.”