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Helping to improve the quality of education for everyone.

The British Council helps societies achieve change through value for money solutions that are both effective and sustainable. We work with governments, teachers, school leaders and civil society partners to improve the quality of school education for children and young people. By promoting quality education, sharing international best practice and facilitating dialogue between policy makers, practitioners and education leaders we influence whole-system reform to help improve learning outcomes.

We work collaboratively with governments to implement education reforms that align with national policies and plans and support and develop existing processes. Through our global network of partners and experts, we have access to the very latest educational expertise and practices, which we build into programmes to improve education outcomes in the countries we work in. We promote a global perspective in education to enable young people to develop the skills and understanding they need to achieve success at school and improve their international competitiveness in the future.


 We support governments with their priorities for basic education in policy and practice, with a particular focus on: 

  • Inclusive schools
  • Skills for schools 
  • Climate change and sustainability education.  


We work in partnership with governments around the world on our three thematic areas to provide:

  • Technical assistance and access to UK expertise
  • Opportunities for policy discussion and exchange 
  • Support to develop a highly skilled workforce of teachers and school leaders through the development of – for example - standards or curriculum documentation
  • Opportunities to develop and share the research and evidence of what works in basic education, supporting ministries to improve their education systems.


We work directly with schools in partner countries by: 

  • Supporting headteachers and teachers to internationalise the experience of young people through the curriculum 
  • Developing international school partnerships including those that improve Modern Foreign Language teaching and learning
  • Offering training to develop the knowledge and expertise of teachers and school leaders in areas such as school leadership, gender equality, inclusion and the effective teaching of core skills.

Additionally, through externally funded partnerships or contracts, we can deliver any aspect of our work, including professional development for teachers , at system-wide scale.

Girls' Education

We are proud to be central to the UK’s commitment to supporting education systems to improve access to 12 years of quality education for all and deliver interventions that drive up overall education performance as well as programmes focused specifically on gender equality and girls’ education. As a cross-cutting priority for all our education work we collaborate  with governments, ministries of education, school leaders, teaching professionals, students and communities and non-government educational organisations across the globe to address the multiple and complex barriers to girls’ education, improve access to education for girls and to ensure that they are supported to learn and reach their potential in school and beyond. 

We believe in the power of education to transform gender relations and contribute to more equal and inclusive societies. However, we also acknowledge the role of education systems in replicating and reinforcing gender and other inequalities and disproportionately excluding girls, therefore the need for holistic and multi-pronged approaches.

With extensive experience of working on inclusive education, we have capability in:

  • Supporting gender equitable education systems
  • Instructional leadership for girls’ education
  • Professional development of teacher educators and teachers in gender sensitive teaching practice
  • Gender-sensitive curriculum and resources
  • Interventions to enable girls’ access to education
  • Engaging with communities to support girls’ education
  • Engaging girls in subjects where they are under-represented including Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)
  • Supporting girls’ empowerment in and out of school
  • Supporting research and policy dialogue to create an enabling environment for girls’ education. 

Higher Education and Science

Our work in higher education in the UK and overseas extends and strengthens the international connections of the sector, identifying mutually beneficial areas for collaboration and facilitating partnerships and mobility. Our work is focused on the following six areas:

1. Promote the benefits of UK education internationally and support the international objectives of UK universities. We support the UK higher education sector to consolidate and diversify its international recruitment. This assists the sector’s efforts to recover from the twin challenges of the Covid pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU. We do this by:

  • Driving global awareness of UK education and influencing students through our Study UK campaign  
  • Supporting education agents and school counsellors with online training and professional development
  • Providing timely and relevant insight and analysis on market opportunities for international student recruitment, transnational education (TNE) and other forms of overseas engagement and partnerships. 

2. Create global networks of international alumni of UK higher education institutions. Our Global Alumni Programme builds long-term relationships with students who have studied at UK higher education institutions both in the UK and through transnational programmes across the world. We support alumni to advance their own careers and learning, as well as to build networks and collaborate in addressing global challenges. The core of the programme is a new digital platform which enables registered alumni to access information and opportunities.

3. Create more opportunities for UK students, learners and researchers to study and work overseas. We run a range of outward mobility programmes aimed at providing life-changing opportunities for students from all parts of the UK to study or work overseas.  Beyond the programmes that we run ourselves we encourage UK undergraduates to pursue international opportunities through Study and Work Abroad, our graduate mobility web portal. 

4. Developing stronger, more inclusive and globally connected Higher Education and TVET systems that support social and economic growth. Our Going Global Partnerships programme builds strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships in tertiary education between the UK and other countries. The programme supports partnerships between universities, colleges, education policy makers and industry partners in the UK and around the world. By partnering, collaborating and sharing knowledge, partners in the UK and other countries can enable more innovative research, improve higher education and TVET delivery, make systems more international and inclusive, and enhance learner outcomes.

5. Support and grow the UK’s international reputation for science and research. Through our grant-funded programmes and our delivery partnerships with the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, we support collaborative research activities between UK and international teams of researchers, as well as enabling supportive and effective research environments globally. Our focus is on:

  • Excellence, inclusivity and trust in science and research
  • Early career and career transition points for postgraduate students and researchers, and pilot, formative and early-stage funding for collaborations that can build to sustainable research engagements in the long term
  • Creating opportunities for women and underrepresented groups to create a more inclusive and diverse global research community.

Our work complements the main UK science funders and learned societies, as well as public sector research organisations and the UK university research community. We work closely with UK Research and Innovation and the UK national academies, particularly in our role as a delivery partner for the new International Science Partnerships Fund from 2023. 


6. Create more opportunities to learn from global practice and insight and enhance the international reputation of the four education systems of the UK. We convene policy debates and discussions for policymakers and sector leaders from around the world to identify and address shared challenges in global higher education.

Training and Vocational Education (TVET)

Our work in Training and Vocational Education (TVET) supports the development of high-quality technical and vocational skills systems so that they are inclusive and relevant for employment and entrepreneurship, locally and in the global economy. We work with governments, the private sector, and training providers to influence whole-system reforms by building partnerships, providing technical assistance and capacity building, sharing good international practice, piloting new approaches relevant to the needs of the labour market, and improving outcomes for learners.

To support our international partnership approach, we deliver a targeted Going Global Partnerships Programme, which builds stronger, more inclusive, and internationally connected TVET systems across 12 countries in Africa and South Asia, and the UK. In partnership with leading European development agencies, we have successfully delivered VET Toolbox 1 project which supported TVET reforms in 13 countries; the I-Work Commonwealth project, which produced the first national Apprenticeships Policy in Ghana and developed an Apprenticeships benchmarking methodology applied in over ten countries since then. We then Launched VET Toolbox 2 project, targeting skills development within sectors of investment in Ghana and Malawi.  We have recently completed the €14m EU-funded Dakchyata project in Nepal which has embedded new practical public-private partnership approaches to TVET and this year started the €5.8m EU-funded Zantchito Skills for Jobs project in Malawi.

In alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals, our work bridges the gaps between the learner and the world of decent work and strengthens education and work systems to improve people’s lives and build a prosperous, green, and fair future.

Non-Formal Education (NFE)

Our non-formal education programmes are all about creating positive pathways and opportunities for young people outside of formal learning spaces. Our programmes create opportunities and positive pathways for young people who are 18-35 years old. Through these initiatives, we aim to empower young people around the world to contribute to trust-building, cohesion and stability in their societies, and represent their communities on a local, regional and national stage.

Our global programme provides training to develop the skills, voice and networks young people need to lead enriched lives, to participate in positive social and economic development and to act on local and global issues. We connect young people from around the world, supporting them to build alliances and networks.  These connections enable them to work across differences to act positively on the big global challenges that affect their lives and communities. Our NFE portfolio also includes a wide range of projects and programmes that are delivered on behalf of international donor organisations.