Our work increases UK prosperity by encouraging more people to trade, invest, visit and study,

Trust underpins trade

  • The British Council supports UK prosperity by working to build trust in the UK around the world. Increasing the trust between the UK and international partners opens up opportunities for growing trade links and international co-operation.
  • Trust is essential for international trade. It underpins the efficient operation of markets and reduces transaction costs.
  • Trust is also integral to innovation in the sciences and technology by building the confidence needed to enable the free exchange of ideas across international borders.
  • We build trust by making a positive contribution to the countries where we work though the teaching of English, the sharing of our arts and culture, the development of educational collaborations and opportunities, and the sharing of the UK’s values and ways of living.

Direct economic benefit to the UK

  • By presenting the best of the UK’s culture and education around the world, we attract people and inward investment to the UK. Our work attracts international businesses, tourists and students to the UK, injecting £billions into the UK economy every year.
  • We showcase the best of the UK’s cultural and creative industries in international markets, creating a modern, vibrant and innovative image of the UK and generating opportunities for both young and established artists and businesses.
  • We support the UK’s education sector globally. We build links between universities and further education colleges in the UK and overseas, improving the exchange of research and innovation, and we attract international students from around the world to study in the UK.
  • We work with UK companies and charities like ELT businesses and professional examination boards to facilitate international opportunities with foreign Governments.
  • Through schemes like Erasmus+, we provide international opportunities to young people from the UK to develop the international experience and skills vital to both their personal and the UK’s success in the global market.



  • Research by Chatham House has placed the English language, education and culture as the top three factors in supporting the UK’s overseas reputation.
  • The British Council helps attract more than 350,000 international students to the UK every year. International student recruitment brings £14 billion to the UK economy per annum. We engage directly with 49% of international students coming to the UK and students we have engaged with are 15% more likely to choose the UK as a study destination.
  • Our provision of UK exams and qualifications are worth £60 million in export earnings for UK exam boards.
  • Working in partnership with Ecorys UK, we are the UK National Agency for the seven year Erasmus+ programme, running until 2020, where 250,000 young people, students and staff will gain international experience and skills to learn from innovators in their field.
  • In 2014-15 the British Council offered over 1.6 million direct opportunities for young learners in the UK to develop skills to help them work across cultures and internationally.
  • We work with the education ministries of each of the four UK countries to raise young people’s global awareness, skills and ambitions. Our language assistant programme for example benefitted 631,000 pupils in UK schools in 2014-15.
  • The creative industries contribute £77 billion in value added to the UK economy each year and are one of the UK’s fastest growth sectors.
  • Major UK cultural seasons led by the British Council in places such as Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, and Mexico increase knowledge and awareness of the UK amongst millions of people in these key emerging markets.
  • Research commissioned from ICM found that, in recruiting new employees, 79 per cent of employers considered knowledge and awareness of the wider world as important, compared to those that considered the following important: rated degree subject and classification (74 per cent), A-level results (68 per cent), or A-level subjects (63 per cent).
  • Research by IPSOS Mori found a higher level of trust in people form the UK is associated with a higher level of interest in doing business and trade with the UK with the difference in China being 19%, Brazil 22%, India 24% and Russia 29%.