About this opportunity

Through this scheme, the British Council will support a programme of research to provide data, develop new and innovative research methods, and give actionable insights for policy makers, educators and other key stakeholders on key trends associated with the role of English as a global language. Projects funded through this scheme will focus on areas of interest identified by the Future of English project. The aim of the scheme is to provide output which will facilitate and support stakeholders at all levels – from ministries of education to individual institutions and educators – to achieve their goals in relation to the use of English in local and global contexts. 

We will prioritise projects which are Official Development Assistance (ODA) compliant and contribute to the economic development and welfare of developing countries as their main objective (see the Development Assistance Committee list of ODA-eligible countries).

Optional PhD studentship funding

In addition to the main Future of English research grants, applicants applying for a grant will have the option of applying to a PhD studentship fund which will support a full-time PhD studentship focused on an area relevant to the applicant’s main grant proposal.


The Future of English (FoE) is a multi-stage project which will set a research agenda with global scope and local relevance. The project is intended to: provide insights on trends that will define the role of English as a global language over the next decade; inform language policy and education reform interventions; and lay out a research agenda capable of generating hard evidence and data to inform those policy decisions and evaluate their impact. 

The project is divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1 took the landmark publication English Next by David Graddol (https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/english-next) as its starting point and evaluated Graddol’s predictions before looking forward to the future by producing a new set of sixteen predictions for the next decade. 
  • Phase 2 utilised the unique position of the British Council and the relationships it has with local policy makers to hold a series of regional policy roundtables in which the new predictions made by the FoE project in Phase 1 were interrogated and revised. An external consultancy experienced in futures methodology was engaged to analyse the roundtable data to help revise and refine the predictions from Phase 1. 
  • Phase 3 will develop new ways of engaging with UK and global experts, policy makers, academics, parents, teachers, employers, students and other key stakeholders to track trends through robust evidence-based data collection and evaluate and interpret the trends over time. The FoE Research Grant Scheme is a central part of Phase 3.

The the Future of English Research Grant Scheme aims to:

  • critically evaluate the key trends identified by the FoE project
  • develop new and ambitious methods for measuring and tracking the key trends
  • develop baseline data to enable longitudinal studies of the trends
  • evaluate educational interventions, analyse policy innovations and recommend new solutions, designed to facilitate positive impact for the future use of English, particularly in support of development, prosperity and security in global ODA contexts
  • improve access of researchers, educators, policy makers, and other stakeholders worldwide to high quality and relevant research from the UK
  • facilitate and encourage the establishment and maintenance of active research links between researchers, educators and policy makers in the UK and overseas.

Who can apply?

Applications must have a single Principal Investigator (PI) who is an established member of a UK higher education institution (HEI) or approved Independent Research Organisation (IRO) eligible to receive UKRI funding. 

We encourage applications that include Co-Investigators (CI’s) from consortia of UK institutions, particularly those that offer a cross-disciplinary approach. 

There is no limit on the number of CI’s. However, the project proposal attached as a part of the application should make clear how each CI will make a significant contribution to the conduct of the research. 

We encourage consortia that include CI’s based in UK and/or international institutions, and priority will be given to applications that include a CI attached to a HEI or research organisation based in one or more ODA countries. As noted above, it will be the responsibility of the Administering Institution to distribute the grant to the international CI’s institution and ensure compliance with any terms and conditions of the grant. 

We encourage applications which include involvement with NGOs, third-sector organisations and Civil Society groups as Project Partners, particularly those based in ODA countries that are the target of the project proposal submitted as part of the application.

How to apply

If interested the intended PI should send an expression of interest to FoEgrants@britishcouncil.org and register for an information webinar before 6pm (UK time) on Wednesday 17 November 2021. The PI should include a description of their eligibility, and indicate which of the following two webinars they will attend: 

  • Webinar 1: Friday 19 November 2021, 12:30pm – 1:30pm (UK time)
  • Webinar 2: Friday 26 November 2021, 2pm – 3pm (UK time)

The webinars will cover all aspects of the research call, including details of the previous phases of the Future of English project, via Microsoft Teams Meetings.  

After submission of an expression of interest, a calendar invitation with a link will be sent out.

Registered webinar participants may email any questions in advance to the dedicated inbox: FoEgrants@britishcouncil.org

A Frequently Asked Questions document will be made available to all registered for the information webinars.

Registered participants for the webinars will be provided with:

  • an information pack providing more detail on the FoE project and the thematic areas of interest
  • details of the application documents that will be required
  • instructions and links to submit an application.


The deadline to submit your expression of interest in this opportunity is Wednesday 17 November 2021 by 6pm (UK time).

You will then have until Friday 14 January 2022 to submit your completed application.