Christie + Co

Essential reading for education companies worldwide
 
 
Remember me:
Skip Navigation LinksEI article
British Council 'may be anticompetitive', claims FCO review

The British Council must be overhauled to prevent it competing unfairly with UK education businesses abroad, a government review has argued.
 
The 'Triennial Review of the British Council', published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) yesterday, claims the council makes a significant contribution to the UK’s international reputation through its promotion of UK education, the arts and English language worldwide.
 
But it also found conflicts of interest in the way it “acts as an advocate and advisor for other UK providers in fields that are also important sources of its own self generated income”. 
 
The council, a public body with a Royal Charter and charitable status, now earns nearly 80% of its income independently, by selling English language training and other educational services. This is sometimes in direct competition with British businesses. 
 
As such, states the review: "There are some grounds for concern that the organisation could be limiting potential opportunities for other UK providers in a growing market where the UK has significant natural advantages."
 
In response, it says the council must more overhaul is operating model by more clearly separating "income-generating activities and those for purely public benefit”. This could involve
 
(i) internal administrative separation, including financial reporting, that increases transparency of commercial activity and its relationship with other areas of British Council work and income streams;
 
(ii) establishment of a government owned company for income-generating activity, reporting to the FCO or another government entity;
 
(iii) establishment of a commercial, legal entity for income generating activity (such as for example a community interest company), with its own board of directors, reporting to the main British Council board.
 
Patrick Watson of Montrose Public Affairs welcomed the review. “There have always been concerns expressed by education providers directly to ministers that the British Council operates with a unfair advantage in the market. 
 
“Providers have been unsure of the rules of engagement – when is the council working with them in partnership to promote British education interests, and when is it competing with them to secure commercial deals for itself.”   
 
David Blackie, managing director of International Education Connect, which runs the course listings site English in Britain, said the review was "not radical enough to satisfy those who the council competes with", but a “step in the right direction”. 
 
“If the recommendations are carried out and acted upon with zeal there will be a new culture within the organisation,” he said.
 
Sir Vernon Ellis, chair of the British Council said: “We agree that our significant growth and the increased importance and complexity of our relations with government and other stakeholders has given rise to a number of important issues that need to be addressed.”
 
A cross-government steering group will begin assessing the review's recommendations this month.
 
 


Posted on: 23/07/2014




Latest news

25/05/2017
Software services provider IRIS Software Group has acquired cloud education technology platform Results Squared for an undisclosed amount.
24/05/2017
International K12 operator GEMS has combined forces with Canadian data and loyalty analytics company Aimia to develop “the region’s first education-related rewards and benefits programme”.
24/05/2017
The formative assessment app Zzish created by ex-Google product manager, Charles Wiles, has raised over a £1 million from private investors on Crowdcube. Once the funding round is closed it will take the firm’s total raise to £3 million since its launch.
22/05/2017
Indian media company HT Media is acquiring Apollo Global Singapore’s 49% stake in its joint venture India Education Services Private Limited (IESPL) for Rs 58 crore (£6.89 million), DealStreetAsia has published.
18/05/2017
Singapore-based private equity advisory firm, Rising Tide Asia, part of the Rising Tide Foundation Group is in the process of selling its education assets EducationInvestor can reveal.
18/05/2017
The Conservative Party has pledged an extra £4 billion by 2022 per year to address the schools funding gap.
18/05/2017
GK Strategy, the political advisory firm, has appointed former cabinet minister and Liberal Democrat MP David Laws as a strategic advisor.
17/05/2017
The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) has launched a campaign to highlight the funding gap in UK schools over the past two years.
17/05/2017
Dubai-based education company GEMS Education has announced a strategic partnership with Intelligent Partners, a consultancy which offers career and higher education counselling
16/05/2017
Indian ed tech app Byju’s is in advanced talks to acquire parts of TutorVista from Pearson, Indian daily The Economic Times has reported.





global | IFC

The private sector arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, is one of the largest global investors in education. Kirsten Noben talks to head of education, Salah-Eddine Kandri, about its strategy
Read more...


Christie + Co

EducationInvestor Global events

Features and analysis

It is critical that academic institutions begin to adopt a sustainable model for the provision of online learning, says Jeremy Bradley, executive director of academic and student affairs at InterActive

Sky School offers blended learning for refugees in Jordan and Greece. We spoke to founders Mia Eskelund and Polly Akhurst

Patrick Craven, director at City & Guilds and vice-chairman of The e-Assessment Association, reviews the potential benefits of technology-enhanced assessment

VitalSource provides e-textbook services to global markets. John Donovan, newly appointed managing director for the EMEA and Asia Pacific region, tells us more

GEMS Education is one of the largest K12 operators globally. Kirsten Noben speaks to executive director of Europe, Jay Varkey, about the firm’s success

Indonesia presents a number of challenges to the informed investor, says Tony Mitchener, management consultant and national director at Australia Indonesia Business Council

The private sector arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, is one of the largest global investors in education. Kirsten Noben talks to head of education, Salah-Eddine Kandri, about its strategy

Success at Witherslack Group has been driven by a focus on high acuity cases and a substantial support structure for teachers, finds Ploy Radford

Deloitte