British Council statement in response to the Foreign Affairs Committee report on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s performance in 2011-12.
Martin Davidson CMG, Chief Executive of the British Council, said “We welcome the Foreign Affairs Committee’s strong endorsement of the work and strategy of the British Council in their report of FCO performance in 2011-12. Our staff around the world work tremendously hard with great talent and dedication on our cultural relations programmes that build trust and strengthen relationships between the people of the UK and other countries, and it is pleasing that the impact of that work is recognised by the Committee.
“The British Council has responded to challenging financial conditions since the 2010 Spending Review and we are glad that the Committee has recognised that we have continued to successfully deliver our work and be “a major instrument of UK public diplomacy and ‘soft power’”.
“Our aim is to deliver an entrepreneurial public service for the benefit of the UK and for the people and institutions who we work with around the world. This requires us to generate more income, therefore we welcome the Committee’s summary that we have “managed to take on a more entrepreneurial character without significant detriment to the quality of its work or its global reach.”
“We also welcome the Foreign Affairs Committee’s recommendation that Government should consider our warnings on the impact of the Government’s student visa policies around the world. As a public organisation that has promoted UK education overseas for almost eighty years, with perhaps the biggest network of education contacts in the world, we believe we have a duty to use our experience and expertise to inform the debate around student visa policy. We will continue to produce research and speak out where we believe we can add value to that debate. International students create tremendous academic, cultural and economic benefits to the UK and we are pleased that the Committee endorses our insight.”