British council

The English language is the UK's biggest export success story. We create a wealth of opportunities for learners of English to meet their goals and we support those professionals involved in bringing the English language to life around the world.


What could be more effective than actually learning English in the UK? The British Council helps thousands of students realise their dreams, with support, advice and access to Accredited English courses and exams in the UK.


We provide English language courses and exams in over 60 countries worldwide. Find out more about the range of English exams you can take through your local office as well as the huge variety of English courses available in your country.


Take a look at our excellent websites to help you improve your English at all levels from beginner to advanced and in specialist areas such as English for the Military.


The best people to help teachers are teachers themselves. We support a huge range of networking opportunities and resources for professional development, from the Search English web forum to seminars and the English Language Teaching Contacts Scheme (ELTeCS).


From practical tips in Language Assistant, to lesson plans and downloadable activities from the TeachingEnglish website to ELT publications and surveys, you've got a huge range of resources to support your day-to-day work.


If you're a UK-based ELT provider, knowing how to promote and market your schemes abroad is crucial to the success of your business. Find out how gaining British Council Accreditation can help you.


Working with the British Council opens up a whole range of opportunities in over 60 countries for a fulfilling and exciting long-term career. Search our vacancies online.


Did you know that English is spoken as a first language by around 375 million people and nearly the same amount again use it as their second language? Find out more about the English Language in our frequently asked questions section.

Send a letter

To use the postal system and know the price of of sending a letter or a package to england, please see : tarif lettre Angleterre

Sources of funding for international students

In the United Kingdom (UK) we warmly welcome international students and are aware of the educational, commercial, political and developmental benefits they bring. In return, students will benefit from their studies in the UK, and pass on this benefit to their home countries. British university education continues to offer good value for money - the quality of teaching is high, as is the international status of British qualifications.

The majority of students who come to study in the UK pay for their courses privately, but study can be costly and many students need to apply for scholarships or grants. The British government and other UK organisations provide a number of scholarships and awards to help international students to study in the UK.

Examinations Services

Every year the British Council administers more than one million exams on behalf of over 170 examinations boards and awarding bodies in around 100 countries.

What we do for young people and youth workers

The British Council provides opportunities for international youth experience, exchange and projects worldwide and manages programmes for the UK youth sector.

What we do for colleges and training providers

The British Council's Vocational Partnerships team advises UK vocational training providers interested in the international dimension of vocational training.

We are also managing agents for European programmes and the Prime Minister's Initiative (PMI) - a campaign to recruit international students to UK further education colleges.

European programmes

CEDEFOP Study Visits
Find out more about vocational training in another European country
Record of training in another European country
Leonardo da Vinci
European programme supporting vocational training
Socrates: Arion, Comenius, Grundtvig, Lingua, Minerva
European programme supporting
co-operation in education

For colleges and training providers outside the UK

Vocational Training Links
Help with partner finding
World Class
Find out what's special about UK vocational education and training

For UK colleges and training providers

Distance learning and in-country delivery
Services to assist in accessing international markets
Tirisano Fellowship Programme
Host a college manager from South Africa
Vocational Training Links
Help with partner finding
Market Intelligence
Global Education and Training Information Service
Education Counselling Service
Recruiting international students
Training Bridge
British-German co-operation in the field of work-based training

Distance learning and in-country delivery

Distance learning and in-country delivery are transforming the way people across the globe gain UK education and training qualifications. These modes of delivery allow learners to study in their own country for a UK award.

The British Council plays a key role in distance learning by providing information and advice to students as well as supporting UK education providers internationally.

Information and Knowledge

Our global library and information network

We are committed to the development of open and thriving information societies. We work with partners in the UK and around the world to help make this possible.


With over 200 centres providing library and information services, the British Council combines in-depth expertise with a worldwide network enhanced by our strategic collaborations.


A partnership with the British Council gives you access to a unique network of professional knowledge and resources.


Find out how we work with organisations around the world to promote the development of information societies.


Find out how we promote UK publishing worldwide.


We are developing a network of KLC's delivering enhanced knowledge and learning opportunities

The most familiar aspect of the British Council to many people around the world is a library or information centre. Through our global network of centres, and our work in information exchange, we can offer a variety of services. These pages give more information about what we do and how we do it.

Our presence is extensive, with 229 libraries, information and resource centres in 111 countries. In 2000-2001 our members of staff answered about 2 million enquiries and our 350,000 members borrowed 8 million books, videos and tapes.

Access to the latest printed and electronic resources are equally important. There are reference services in most of our centres and lending facilities in many. In addition, our enquiry service specialises in providing information about studying and living in the UK, and British publishing. We also provide some support for UK exporters, particularly in the publishing industry and educational services.

The services which we can provide may vary from centre to centre. To find out more about what we do, click on the links to the left. If you have any questions, please email us

These pages also look at how our information services are managed, from policy-making and support from headquarters in the UK, through to the delivery of services in centres around the world. This process is a partnership between many different parts of the British Council; we work as a team to ensure we provide appropriate services which make the most impact in each country.


On our website you'll find information about the British Council's programme of international seminars taking place in the UK. The seminars reflect a wide range of the British Council’s activity around the world.

You can search for seminars using the calendar, read seminar programmes and biographies of leading experts at the seminars, and apply online to attend.

Seminar is derived from the Latin word seminarium: a seed-garden, nursery-garden, or seed-plot. Our seminars seed knowledge, learning and networks. Each is designed to build communication, transparency and trust across cultures.

Arts Literature and Design

UK creativity in advertising and architecture, on page, catwalk, screen and stage - impacts on global culture and is enriched by contact with other cultures.

We create and consolidate cross-cultural links and partnerships by organising over 3000 arts events every year worldwide, to an audience of over five million. We reach out to many more on the Internet, on radio and TV and on the printed page. We bring together, in residencies, workshops and exchanges, artists and institutions from Britain and the rest of the world.

We promote development through arts and we encourage practitioners to export their skills and services by showcasing

Creative sector outstrips financial services

A report from the Government's Strategy Unit has concluded that the creative industries in London are now more important than financial services to the economy. Employment in the creative industries (including fashion, software design, publishing, architecture and antique dealing) has topped 525,000 and is still rising, compared to a mere 322,000 and falling in financial services. Graham Hitchen of the London Development Agency warned that investors "need to accept that the culture and leadership of these industries is very different from theirs".

How we promote arts visiting the UK

Visiting Arts promotes and facilitates the inward flow of foreign arts into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the context of the contribution they can make to cultural relations, cultural awareness and fostering mutually beneficial international arts contacts and activities at national, regional, local and institutional levels.

Visiting Arts is a joint venture of the Arts Council of England, the Scottish Arts Council, the Arts Council of Wales, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Crafts Council, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and The British Council.

Science and Health

Our portfolio covers two main areas. Excellence in International Science is all about innovation, with the stress on partnership and wealth creation. Understanding Science in Society is about the relevance of science to culture and social well-being.

The former fosters collaboration with scientists, engineers and research managers through face-to-face contact and networking. The latter promotes awareness amongst the public and policymakers with exhibitions, debates, lectures, seminars, events and information.

Our work in health offers practitioners and policy makers an opportunity to find out more about health provision and access to clinical medical training in the UK.


We promote the unique niche the UK has in the world of science. Through our worldwide science network we build partnerships and create a wider public awareness of UK science and technology... Find out more about our science policy and how science is organised in the UK.


We foster collaboration between scientists, engineers and research managers through face-to-face contact, networking and information sharing to facilitate and encourage innovation. Take a look at the new INYS initiative and our already established Partnership programmes.


We have a wide selection of on-line publications, to keep readers informed and up-to-date on developments in science, both in the UK and around the world. View our special features like Women in Science.


Science and technology are at the forefront of cultural life around the world and we work to ensure the next generation engage with it. Find out about our exhibitions, seminars, debates and other events.


Our health team provide professional expertise on health-related activity. Find out about our health policy and the work we do in the health sector in Health Insight.


Find out about opportunities for overseas medical graduates in UK training in clinical medicine and research and the services of the National Advice Centre for Postgraduate Medical Education (NACPME).


Welcome to our website. Here you will find information on the work we do to build enduring partnerships through sharing knowledge and expertise.

Through our range of services we help our partners to design, manage and evaluate development projects and programmes. We support them in achieving their development goals through our expertise, experience and worldwide networks.

We have worked in development for over 40 years, changing our approaches as our partners' circumstances change. We currently manage over 100 contracts funded by more than 20 agencies, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern and Central Europe.

Trends in Governance

A report for the British Council by Will Hutton

Britain is a society in an uncertain quest for new codes and mores; old rules do not work but there is little consensus on what the new ones might be. A better educated, more prosperous and less deferential public has acquired the taste for individualism, but is anxious about the economic and social consequences. The astonishing rise in consumer spending, outstripping the growth of the overall economy for the last seven years. is one facet of this new individualistic trend; another is the decline in settled political loyalties; another is the multiplicity of fads, cults and the interest in self-exploration and self-fulfilment. But simultaneously there is a growing revolt against the resulting consequences on inequality, an insistence that the delivery of public services be improved and a mounting distrust of the overarching dominance of business and business values. Yet there is no clear coalition capable of affording a coherent response to the confusion. in part because the now deeply ingrained individualism makes appeals to collective action fall on deaf ears.

The political implications are obvious. New labour's ascendancy perfectly reflects the muddle and lack of an articulate way forward, which its own political stance represents. The country distrusts the individualism of the Conservative Party but equally will not embrace social democratic solutions to its problems. Thus New labour finds itself wary of becoming overtly the party of tax increases, regulation and state initiative even while it knows that without more resources and a stronger culture of social solidarity no serious attempt can be made to relieve poverty and build up public services. It talks the language of public-service improvement while being ultra-cautious in willing the means, in part because it knows the public is unconvinced. Equally the Conservative Party makes little advance; it is not plausibly able to argue the case for more social cohesion because it so obviously remains wedded to individualism. In this stasis political exchange has transmuted into a querulous managerialism, with both principal parties claiming they can manage better than the other -but neither espousing a coherent, values-based vision of what a better Britain might look like that courts a majority view, because there is no majority view to champion.

The politicians' uncertainties reflect the lack of clear templates by any broad coalition of social groups of the outlines of a better and just society. Business. of course. wants less regulation and taxation even while its leaders know they need to give a better account of themselves if business is to be more legitimate; hence the growing embrace of corporate social responsibility and recognition that explosive rises in executive pay cannot be justified. Business might be pleased that its agenda is so little challenged by government but it knows that the wider society remains sceptical and distrustful. Whatever the incantations to the overwhelming importance of private-sector wealth generation by the political and business elites. society knows it needs more than this.

Trade unions, for their part, are in an equal bind. They want more labour market regulation and support for unionisation, while knowing that unionism needs a wholly different image and relationship with its members and employers if it is to reverse decades of decline. Nor do fundamental questions stop there. The public sector knows it needs to restructure itself and that it needs private partners to raise its game, but there are limits to the role of the private sector in public activity. How to draw the fine line between the desire for more efficiency and the need to sustain public-service values of accountability and universality remains anxiously debated and unresolved.

The uncertainties and ambiguities go further. Traditional social conservatism, preached through the organs of the Conservative press, insists that the old nuclear family must be culturally and financially buttressed as a bulwark of civil society and the nurturing of children before the ominous forces of modernity and family breakdown. But at the same time a combination of social liberalism and Britain's long-standing tradition of tolerance require that all forms of family type be respected. and dispute the evidence that divorce and step- families -set to become close to half of all families by 2010 -irretrievably damage children. Perhaps the most acute ambiguity of all is the attitude towards ethnic minorities and multi- culturalism. The country cannot decide whether it should -or even wants to - assimilate ethnic minorities into a necessarily more complex idea of Britishness, or whether the right approach is to respect the identities and separateness of a multiplicity of identities while insisting on the primacy of Britain, western values and command of English. The ambiguity is made worse by our own uncertainty: what is the Britain to which ethnic minorities are meant to relate?

This fractiousness, ambiguity and uncertainty reveals itself clearly in the country's attitudes towards the European Union. Pro-Europeans are unpersuasive in their advocacy of closer European integration; the country is fearful of giving up more anchors in this rapidly changing landscape and there is little cultural conviction that Britain really is European in its values and attitudes -America and Anglo-Saxon culture still beckon. Equally Euro-sceptics are unpersuasive in their protection of all things British; there is too much palpably wrong and globalisation too powerful a force to make the argument successfully that Britain can continue as an individual nation state with its sovereign parliament and unique way of life. The way of life is in flux; the parliament is not sovereign; and nation states' power is giving way to international influences. It is this very uncertainty that gives the European debate its bitterness. Both sides are unable to deliver a knock-out blow to the other while passionately believing in the justice of their cause -and the argument overflows into what kind of society Britain aims to be. feeding all the insecurities and uncertainties mentioned above.

What makes the argument so central to British debate is that it goes straight to the heart of how the country is governed and the legitimacy of its political institutions. The difficulty for the euro-sceptics and their ringing affirmation of the enduring importance of British parliamentary sovereignty is that life is draining out of the parliamentary process. The whole edifice is being challenged. The capacity of the monarch to dignify parliament and so sanctify the prerogative powers that the monarchy lends it -what makes the British state so uniquely powerful- has been undermined by the Royal Family's evident human frailties. While the Queen herself retains immense respect and loyalty, and some is conferred on Prince Charles, the rest of the family -beset by divorces, financial scandals and evident cynicism about its own role -is increasingly mocked and derided. Rather than lend credibility and legitimacy to the state, the state now lends credibility and legitimacy to it.

That legitimacy, however, is under siege. Parliament is no longer the cockpit of the nation; its control by the majority party has always meant it was the cipher of the executive, but even the residual challenges to government initiative that used to be made in parliament are now more effectively made in the all encompassing media which has become the new locus of public debate. As disabling is the widespread feeling that political activity has declining purpose; political debates are managerial rather than political and because politicians no longer believe in the effectiveness of state action but rather the primacy of business, the ambition of politics is diminished. Moreover globalisation means that much effective action requires international collaboration, especially within the EU -inevitably a rather muddy and unheroic process. All these themes together mean that the political process has become devalued and voter enthusiasm for participation -reflected in dramatically lower voter turnouts -has declined.

Defending these structures to the last as the acme of democracy as Euro-sceptics is thus not easy; but pro-Europeans have their work cut out to explain why Europe will make the situation any better. All parties to the debate accept there needs to be renewal and re- energisation of Britain's political institutions, but to date this has defeated the reformers. In part this is because reform has been driven by the need to protect the essential centralised nature of the system, the most dramatic example of which was the government's initial proposal to appoint four-fifths of the members of the House of Lords. And in part this is because the forces at work -described above -are beyond the capacity of the reformers to address.

The drivers of this social and cultural change are enormous. Britain's economic structure has been transformed by globalisation. One of the paradoxes of the last decade is that Britain, for long the sick economic man of Europe, has enjoyed a period of economic success unparalleled since the second world war -despite continuing low productivity and low investment. The answer is that the economy. despite these long-standing weaknesses, is one of the leading beneficiaries of globalisation. This is self-evidently true of London, which has emerged as one of the world's leading global cities -but spill-over effects are discernible in other leading British cities.

It is not just the financial services industry where globalisation has allowed the City of London to exploit its already powerful position. The same is true of the media, energy, telecommunications, airlines, education and even health. London's universities and hospitals are as much a beneficiary of globalisation as its arts industry and oil companies; even activities like auctioneering or writing software for computer games have taken off before the opportunities afforded by globalisation. Heathrow is the busiest international airport in the world; more international financial transactions are conducted in London than in any other financial capital. Britain's continuing ability to attract more inward investment proportionally than any other country is a tribute to globalisation's benign effect.

London's advantages, and particular industries within London, have been entrenched by 'winner take all' effects. One of the by-products of the information and communication revolution is the speed with which information -and reputation -is now spread. As a result virtuous circle effects that used to take decades to establish now operate within years; a firm with an unique selling point can achieve market dominance fast, as can an entire city or region. Firms in the globalising economy must have a London location because they need to be part of the self-reinforcing network that affords comparative advantage. Airlines need slots at Heathrow; investment banks need to be part of the City; software houses need to be part of the ICT network.

These 'hot' networks in London and the south-east -and in other major British regional capitals -have become extraordinary incubators of prosperity. Salaries have been bid up to international rates, so that the ratio of chief executive pay to blue collar pay has nearly doubled over the last twenty years. Directors in British companies are better paid than their counterparts anywhere else in Europe, although less than the Americans. Professionals with marketable knowledge skills -ranging from lawyers to software writers -have also seen their pay explode. Employment has boomed in the cities and suburbs where the new network industries are clustered, especially near international airports or internationally recognised universities -Manchester airport is as much a new growth pole as Cambridge University.

These areas have also seen strong growth in the micro-service industries servicing the new class of knowledge and professional workers, especially in the dual-income households whose numbers have grown enormously with increased participation of women in the labour market. With both partners working long hours in the 'hot' network, these households have needed to buy in support sponsoring entire new industries servicing their needs -tutors for children, nannies, interior designers, sports trainers and the like -along with the more conventional support from eating out in the mushrooming number of restaurants or seeking gardeners and the like. The result has been extraordinary grovvth in employment and in the character of work. Workers at whatever level in these burgeoning new sectors are much more demanding that their individuality be respected; they want work-life balance and more autonomy over how they organise their day-to-day working life. A growing number are prepared to declare independence from the organisation in which they work, developing a portfolio of jobs as so-called 'free-workers' -exploiting their reputation and access to the network of which they are part to work independently. Their work and career are an individual adventure.

The social impact of these developments is huge. One obvious result, with dual-income households able to support very large mortgages. is an equally extraordinary grovvth in house prices. Property prices, not only in London but also in 'hot' regional cities, are now comfortably the highest in Europe. And it is this prosperity that is the background to the new individualism, a curious fusion of sixties liberalism, Thatcherite precepts about the supremacy of choice as a virtue and the direct consequence of high per capita incomes and the extension of education. Individualism is the creed that justifies the new inequalities and in part creates them - even as its adherents yearn for the old solidarities that they know underpin a notion of the good society.

In education, for example, the new rich can not only afford to pay high fees for their children's education -they justify their opting out of the public system by insisting that its standards are too low or rough and ready to cater for their children's individual needs. Thus the rationale for private education, which used to be an appeal to snobbery and an entry ticket to the upper social classes, has subtly changed. Now it is the proper right of any parent to exercise their individual choice to see that their child has his or her individual educational needs met. As a result the private schools themselves have changed responding to the new demands that they educate well to justify their status; they have become educationally excellent and the examinations for entry are at least as tough as the old eleven-plus. A new elite is emerging combining meritocratic possession of intellectual skills and examination success, a wealthy social background and membership of exclusive private networks. In 2001 ninety-eight of the top 100 schools by A-level examination results were private.

Yet if individualism is propelling inequality and helping to justify it, there are countervailing forces. The sheer scope of the contemporary media -the multiplicity of television and radio channels alongside newspapers, magazines and the Internet all shouting to be heard and all critically holding society and its decision-makers to account- means that in this goldfish bowl little goes unobserved and unchallenged. For example, the recognition that educational achievement is critical to lifetime success has entered the public conversation via the media's critical gaze, as has the necessity that state schools raise their game. And so they have, under the pressure of a new national curriculum, school inspectors and more rigorous testing of pupils and schools themselves.

If in 1986 only twenty-five per cent of GCSE students achieved A* to C results, by 2001 the proportion had doubled to fifty per cent. Nor is this mere grade inflation as conservative critics allege; Britain's performance in international league tables of educational achievement has risen strongly. If the top 100 schools are almost entirely private, the proportion between public and private in the next 500 is more finely balanced. Oxford and Cambridge are under intense pressure to recruit more candidates from state schools after the publicity afforded Oxford University turning down the application of comprehensive-school educated Laura Spence.

The difficulty is that the state schools that are radically improving tend to be in Britain's 'hot'networks, so that inequality is taking on a new and uglier dimension. There is not just inequality of wealth and income, there is now a geographical inequality so that the chances of upward income and social mobility of low- and middle-income families is much greater if they live geographically within an area that is performing well economically and which will tend to have not just stronger public institutions, such as the better state schools, but also higher levels of social capital. Meanwhile those parts of Britain that have always suffered poverty and vicious cycles of depredation are even more locked into their status -and those who live in them have even poorer life chances.

These' cold' networks have 'loser lose all' effects. Besides the long-standing sources of disadvantage -low income, dependency, poor schools and insecure families -there is now overlaid another; exclusion from the 'hot' network and their job opportunities and culture. Sometimes the hot and cold networks can be physically very close, with social housing that cannot be given away only hundreds of yards from flats and houses whose values are growing exponentially; yet the gulf is yawning. To cross it the disadvantaged need to acquire not merely formal qualifications, but a range of soft skills in self-presentation and social exchange that may be beyond them. The new jobs in the micro-service economy, for example, such as bar-tending, tutoring children or fitness instruction, require that their holders behave as members of the 'hot' network in their attitudes, social skills and comportment. Individuals from the 'cold' network, brutalised by their background, are incapable of crossing the line - and are locked in low incomes or dependency upon the welfare system even though the numbers of unfilled vacancies have reached record levels.

To construct a political coalition that can bind society back together again before these immense trends is enormously problematic. The advantaged in the 'hot' networks are becoming increasingly wedded to their lifestyles and suspicious of the taxation and interventions that are necessary to address the social ills of the 'cold' networks; there is a retreat into self- reinforcing silos in which the better-off blame the worse-off for their condition. When this silo mentality is further entrenched by tribal loyalties to racial or ethnic differences the result is a tinder box -as witnessed by the riots in Oldham and Bradford over the summer of 2001. The subsequent Cantle report revealed a shocking degree of isolation between the Asian and white communities, in which some Asians revealed never meeting, working with or even talking to a white person. This is the most extreme example of a general trend to Balkanisation into social silos.

Yet there remains a vigorous civic culture that is searching for a language and framework to organise a response. As argued earlier both orthodox conservative and social democratic answers find little popular echo, but there are the first signs of an emerging consensus around the precepts of a more hard-edged liberalism. This is the doctrine of enlightened individual self-interest, so that, for example, the case for prison reform is that, despite conservative insistence that prison works, recidivism rates are rising and current prison practice is failing. In the City a growing number of pension funds and insurance companies are becoming more activist, questioning whether racy financial packages for company directors actually serve their interests. There is a growing awareness, after decades of privatisation, that some values in the public sector -notably a desire to serve -are different from those in the private sector and must be cherished.

In short the British are beginning to address the social consequences of the economic success they have enjoyed, and to find new vehicles that can express the social contract to which they remain committed -even while powerful economic forces drive them apart. To the extent Britain is a beneficiary from globalisation, it is also a laboratory where the social and cultural consequences are most obvious -and where answers are beginning to be developed. Britain is actively wrestling with issues of: how a globalised country is best governed; how it relates to the regional grouping of which it is part; how it solves the social fragmentation that globalisation brings in its train; how it retains and develops high-quality public services; and how it treats ethnic minorities and the multiplicity of new family types and lifestyles. It is impossible to judge whether the answers it supplies will work either for Britain or for other countries and cultures. But what can be said is that answers need to be found -and that at least in Britain the debate is being had.


The aim of our work in governance is to enhance awareness of the UK's democratic values and processes by working in partnership with other countries to strengthen good government and human rights.

We work with both government and civil society to advance debate, knowledge and skills and seek to create a wider appreciation of the UK as a valued partner in tackling key reform agendas and promoting sustainable development.


If you are interested in governance issues find out what we're doing in the areas of law and human rights, ethnicity and communities, and gender. We are also active in economics and management, modernising government, and participative democracy. Find out more about our areas of activity.


Fostering debate, networking and information exchange in the field of governance is an essential part of our work. Find out more and gain invaluable contacts and knowledge through British Council Seminars the Human rights network and the John Smith Fellowship.


Access our resource bank of reports and articles on latest developments in governance activities and research ranging from the Directory of human rights resources in the UK to Trends in Governance and the Violence against women directory.


If you are looking for support for your own professional development, we may be able to help you locate this information.



Read about how and when the British Council was founded, and how we developed through each period of our history.

1930S AND 1940S

Lord Lloyd, Chairman 1937-41 From our foundation in 1934, through the Second World War and into the post-War period

1950S AND 1960S

Ethiopian crownprince visiting British Council Book Exhibition Regular Government reviews of our work, political pressures overseas, and a growth in development work.

1970S AND 1980S

English Language Teaching Book Exhibition Lahore 1978 Growth in educational projects and English teaching - and the report which threatened to close us down

1990S AND 2000S

Children attending Britain in Russia Exhibition, Moscow, 1994 New contacts in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, and responding to the information revolution



From our early work with Anglophile societies and schools in Latin America to our work in the Caribbean and North America

British Institute Library in Mexico, 1948. Photograph Juan Guzman, Mexico ASIA

From China in the early 1940s to new work in the countries of Central Asia in the 1990s

Vietnamese students. Copyright The Scotsman AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND AND PACIFIC

Read about our work in Australia and New Zealand from the 1940s onwards, and in the Pacific from 1950

australasia map EUROPE

Our early work in the 1930s, the disruption of the Second World War and the Cold War periods, and recent expansion in Eastern Europe

Children attending Britain in Russia Exhibition, Moscow, 1994 MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA

A priority area from our earliest days, the Middle East and North Africa saw our first overseas representative in Egypt in 1938

Participant at the Connecting Futures Forum, 2002. Photograph by Rehan Jamil SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Early work in West Africa and South Africa in the 1930s, and devel



Sir Reginald 'Rex' Leeper of the Foreign Office founded the British Council in 1934

Sir Reginald Leeper, Founder of British Council. CHAIRS AND DIRECTORS GENERAL

Who was head of the British Council in which year? Find out from our lists of chairs and director generals

Lord Lloyd, Chairman 1937-41 BRITISH COUNCIL PEOPLE

Read about some of our most influential figures of the 1940s: Nancy Parkinson, who enabled us to welcome visitors to the UK, Lilian Somerville, promoter of contemporary British art, and Harry Harvey Wood, who brought the Edinburgh Festival to Edinburgh


Why was the British Council created and what is the purpose of our work today? Is it just a way of imposing a British view on the rest of the world, or does it have a broader purpose? In these pages four writers take a look at some of the trickier questions that we are sometimes asked. Read their answers here.


British historian Nicholas J Cull asks whether the work of the British Council can be termed 'propaganda'

Professor Nicholas J Cull CULTURAL INVASION?

Egyptian journalist and civil servant Dr Morsi Saad El Din responds to the charge of cultural invasion


British historian Philip Taylor examines the question of cultural imperialism versus cultural relations


Historian Richard Weight considers the wide range both of the British Council's activities and of perceptions of the organisation