The British Council was founded to create ‘a friendly knowledge and understanding’ between the people of the UK and the wider world.


Making a positive contribution

  • We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with, using the cultural resources of the UK such as art, sport, education, science, culture, language, innovation, creativity, and the sharing of the UK’s values and ways of living.
  • We work in over 100 countries worldwide. These include all of the places of major importance for UK trade and security, from China, India, Brazil and Russia, to North America and the EU, to the Commonwealth, to the Middle East and North Africa. We are at the forefront of the UK’s international networks and global soft power.
  • Each year we reach over 20 million people face to face and through our events, and more than 500 million online and via broadcasts and publications.

Making a lasting difference for the UK

  • Our work makes a lasting difference to the UK’s international standing by increasing the country’s influence and networks with key decision makers, influencers and the wider public globally.
  • It increases UK prosperity by encouraging more trade, investment and tourism.
  • It helps keep the UK safe and secure by reducing extremism and improving stability and security in strategically important countries.
  • It also increases influence by growing the number of people who know and trust the UK.


  • Participation in cultural activities with the UK is associated with an increase in trust. In a study of 10 strategically important countries, the average level of trust in the UK was 16% higher amongst those who had participated in cultural relations activities than amongst those who had not.
  • Increased levels of trust are associated with an increased interest in visiting, studying and investing in the UK.
  • 1 in 7 world leaders studied in the UK.
  • The British Council works with universities to help attract more than 350,000 international students to the UK every year. International students bring an economic benefit of £14bn to the UK economy pa.
  • By 2020, it is estimated that 2bn people (25% of the global population) will be learning and speaking English.
  • Total UK education exports were £17.5bn in 2011, the fifth largest services export sector in the UK with 75% of earnings coming from students studying in the UK. The UK ranks number two globally for higher education and number one for research citations.
  • 49% of all international higher education students who state an interest in studying in the UK have had a British Council experience. Using British Council services means they are 15% more likely to choose the UK as their destination of study. Based on the 200,000 prospective students who attend our education fairs annually, this is equivalent to a £3/4bn opportunity for the UK economy.
  • The £154.9 million Foreign Office grant funding we received in 2014-15 was five per cent less than the previous year (2013-14, £162.4 million).
  • Despite the reduction in grant, our turnover increased to £973 million in 2014-15 an increase of nearly £109 million on the previous year. For every £1 of Foreign Office grant we generated over £5.28 of income from other sources.