1. We have always worked for the benefit of the four nations which make up the UK and promote their unique cultural and educational strengths globally.

2. We have been active across Europe since our foundation, and work with the European Union as well as with institutions and people in all of the EU member states to deliver our cultural relations work in Europe and around the world.

3. We are regulated as a charity and cannot take any party-political position as an organisation.

4. Our staff and our partners reflect the diversity of the UK. Their views therefore reflect the broad spectrum of opinion in the UK.


For the whole UK

  • Since its foundation in 1934, the British Council has been developing closer cultural relations between all four countries of the United Kingdom and other countries around the world.
  • We distribute management and corporate responsibilities among our different offices in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and Manchester to make sure that we represent and bring employment and opportunity to the whole of the UK.
  • The great diversity of the UK is reflected in our work which promotes the very best of Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Irish arts and culture globally.

Active across the EU to deliver our cultural relations work

  • We work to build closer ties for the people, and cultural and educational institutions of the UK with their counterparts in the countries of Europe and other places around the world.
  • The British Council has offices and teaching centres across Europe. We promote the UK’s arts and education and provide access to high quality English language teaching and UK exams to participants across the EU.
  • We deliver major educational programmes funded by the EU, for example the Erasmus+ scheme that supports thousands of UK students to study at universities across Europe.

Organisationally apolitical

  • Our charitable purposes require us to be apolitical and operationally independent from the Westminster and devolved UK governments.
  • The work we do is for, and on behalf of, the UK and receives core funding from the UK government. We deliver education and other contracts for the European Union, Scottish government and Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies.
  • These activities and the representational element of our work for the UK require us to have working relationships with all four UK governments, parliaments and assemblies, as well as with the European Union and the governments of individual member states within the European Union.
  • The British Council adopted a neutral stance on the referendum on independence for Scotland in 2014.
  • As an organisation that believes in the importance of promoting cultural relationships and the understanding of different cultures between people and peoples of the United Kingdom and other countries; and encouraging cultural, scientific, technological and other educational cooperation between the United Kingdom and other countries. The British Council believes that it is important that the UK remains an active and constructive member of major international institutions such as the Commonwealth and UN Security Council, and that we continue to work with the governments of Europe on culture, arts, science and education.
  • Should there be a change in the governance of the UK affecting our role and our work, we will always respond to it positively and constructively.
  • We reflect and represent the diversity of the whole UK and believe in open and frank debate between different cultures and points of view around the world and in the UK.

Our staff and our partners reflect the diversity of the UK. Their views therefore reflect the broad spectrum of opinion in the UK

  • Over 8,500 people work for the British Council around the world, including many UK and EU citizens.
  • All of the people who work with us will have personal views on topical issues, informed by their own experience in different environments around the world.
  • All of our work, but particularly our work in the arts, international development and governance, puts our people in situations around the world where they experience at first hand different ways of seeing identity, culture, nationality, democracy and representation.
  • People around the world are interested in what is happening in the UK and our people’s opinions on these issues.
  • As well as explaining our corporate position on topics and issues, as part of representing the broad spectrum of responsible UK opinion, we encourage our people to share their own views, including their views on the future of the UK. This helps others understand the country we represent, its diversity of opinions and stimulates open and constructive debate.


  • We are a charity operating globally, with the majority of our programmes and services delivered outside the UK, but with expertise, input and participants from the UK.
  • Those activities and EU programmes we deliver in the UK have beneficiaries in all four countries of the UK, from St Ives to Stornoway.
  • The vast majority of programmes connect UK young people, educators, artists and creative professionals and their organisations with international counterparts. As a result, we do not apportion international spend, contract income and earnings against different countries within the UK.
  • The UK will hold a referendum on its future membership of the European Union on 23 June 2016.