Women taking students temperature at an IELTS centre

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt in early January at the British Council with the closure in China and East Asia of most of our own IELTS and client testing operations. In a normal year over 3.5 million IELTS tests would be delivered globally.

Our teams worked around the clock to adapt to life under the global pandemic. We were pleased to act as a trusted point of contact for our partners, providing immediate advice and support in line with local and government guidelines, including re-scheduling exam sessions with increased capacity and adapting our venues to ensure the safety of candidates. At the start of the outbreak to ensure the safety of candidates and staff, enhanced hygiene measures were planned for at exam centres, and as we slowly return to business it will be important to make candidates aware of, and prepared for, any new, regulations and best practice.

Speaking about working with the British Council during the pandemic, Carol Burt (Head of Registry Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University) said "The British Council exams teams were really good at communicating with us and with candidates about last minute changes to exam delivery. I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently they responded in what was a rapidly changing situation."

Exams in Hong Kong and South Korea were among the first in our global network to resume testing and 40% of our global IELTS test centres are now open. Greeting people with temperature checks and hand sanitiser is the new normal for now.

At this time, we’d like to encourage regular contact so we can help you to plan and manage the next stage of business resumption. Our Exams teams across all regions and countries continue to provide ‘on the ground’ support to maintain client operations and communication across time zones and geographical boundaries. Our global network as well as our local expertise are what sets the British Council apart and will be even more valuable as we move into the next phase.