Is the British Council ‘Entrepreneurial’?

orwellIn 1946 George Orwell warned authors against making money from writing propaganda for bodies such as the British Council, deeming such work a waste of creative energy. Nonetheless, in recent times, it seems that those writing propaganda for the Council’s commercial activities have been reading Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’.


When defending its aggressive commercial plans and arguing for continued grant-in-aid funding from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), the British Council has sought praise for its ‘entrepreneurial‘ model of public sector finance.

Think of the word entrepreneurial and terms like ‘risk taking’, ‘new venture’, ‘private finance’, ‘creative’ and innovation’ come to mind. Let’s compare British Council with a genuine UK business to see which truly represents the spirit of entrepreneurialism:

The British Council

  1. The British Council doesn’t have to worry about start up costs or financing: it is underwritten by the taxpayer to the tune of £160 million per year. It commercially exploits its government branding and facilities, and is largely unaccountable.
  2. The British Council is a government agency with a government brand, funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, with a related political agenda.
  3. The British Council has the instant support of Ambassadors, Consul Generals and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) offices around the world to support its business, at no cost, to the detriment of fair competition. Any education / training company approaching UKTI/FCO for international assistance will be asked to work with a competing organisation – the British Council.
  4. The British Council pays no tax, thanks to its ‘charity‘ status and a complex network of international business entities that makes Starbucks envious.
  5. British Council employees (whether working for the public good or on BC cash generating business) benefit from a full Civil Service Pension scheme, paid for by the British taxpayer.
  6. The British Council stifles competition by using its government brand, taxpayer funding, tax-avoiding global network of companies, and government FCO privileges to maximise income from its marketing, events and language businesses.

Levant Education

  1. Levant Education was started using the private savings of its Director, David Mitchell, after 10 years spent working in International Education marketing. Every project or venture it undertakes must take account of the business risk and customer satisfaction.
  2. Levant Education is a British company, working to build a brand based on quality events, marketing & recruitment, and education projects in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Iran. It is a private limited company, independent of the UK government, working closely with governments where it is active, for example in Azerbaijan.
  3. Levant Education pays UKTI for overseas market introduction services (OMIS), which unavoidably brings-in the British Council team in that market. The British Council then shamelessly goes after our business for itself.
  4. Levant Education pays tax in the UK as a registered UK company.
  5. Levant Education employs and pays its employees with no state benefits required.
  6. Levant Education competes in its sector on a fair and even playing field – one which the British Council distorts and exploits.

Is the British Council ‘entrepreneurial‘? Only in a world where 2 + 2 = 5, Freedom is Slavery, and



Monopolistic, Unaccountable,
State-Sponsored, Unfair Trade

UKET Baku Spring 2014 – Photos

UK Education Tour returned to Baku this April to a new venue, but another successful event for UK education. 

The visit included a meeting with a local A level school, a reception with VIPs from the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education and local education institutions, and an exhibition that attracted 300+ UK-focussed students.

"Really enjoyed Baku. A good event and the usual quality not quantity approach”. Joanne Jacobs, University of Manchester.
“Really enjoyed Baku. A good event and the usual quality not quantity approach”. Joanne Jacobs, University of Manchester.

Is the British Council an Evil Corporation?


The British Council, the registered UK charity described by MP John Mann in 2011 as ‘a nonsense of an organisation to sustain‘, has looked to be on the ropes for the past few years.

In its fight for survival, while the state and its ministries shrink and reduce funding for everything from health care to higher education, the British Council has adapted an increasingly aggressive ‘entrepreneurial’ approach, taking advantage of the vague definition of its role in promoting cultural relations. Its self-edited remit now includes building ‘educational relationships‘, the vagueness of which nicely covers a range of services it can charge fees for to UK education institutions.

This entrepreneurial approach has resulted in the total commercialisation of the British Council, to the point where it competes (unfairly, bearing in mind its FCO status) with UK plc, specifically English language training companies, language test providers, and international marketing service providers to UK education.

Should the British Council become a commercial competitor simply on the grounds that it needs the money? My reading of the 1998 Competition Act leads me to believe that the British Council is violating UK law on fair trading for public bodies – it is hardly a level playing field where the British Council sits in FCO Embassies and Consuls, doesn’t pay tax or UKTI OMIS fees, and operates with all the cache that being a department of Her Majesty’s Government brings. It is the equivalent of the Police looking to raise more cash by competing in the private security sector.

Should a government agency compete with those whose interests they’re set up to serve? UK company Levant Education has always approached the British Council in the spirit of cooperation, having been prompted to do so by UKTI, another UK government department that we have paid for market entry advice (for example in Azerbaijan). And the British Council has reacted by competing for our business.

If the British Council is an honest broker and a showcase for UK education, how can they rightfully take money from UK schools and universities to give them preferential treatment and exposure (for example on the Education UK website, through Education UK fairs, or through market advisory consultation)?

On top of  the unfair business practices, the competition disadvantaging UK plc, and taking advantage of its role for commercial gain, the British Council has recently joined the likes of Google and Starbucks in appointing a global tax expert to help manage its tax affairs more efficiently. That’s right – a UK taxpayer funded agency that will pay a fortune for an ex-Deloittes / PWC man to help it pay tax more efficiently..!

And here’s the latest news: the British Council preferred to protect the image of the Turkish Government last year, when Levant Education tried to advise UK language training providers of the business and legal ‘peculiarities’ of working in Turkey  (we thought people should be aware of these things before engaging in doing business there).

To summarise the situation: the registered charity ‘British Council’ competes in the international education sector to the detriment of UK companies; takes advantage of its governmental role of building ‘soft power’ to generate revenue from teaching English and providing English tests; makes money out of its role of honest broker and UK education showcase by charging for marketing services; seeks to avoid paying tax on its £1000 million revenues; and suppresses information about the business and legal environments in countries when pretending to offer advice it didn’t write about operating in such countries.

All of which begs the question: Is the British Council an Evil Corporation?

UKET Azerbaijan 2013 – Now Booking

Building on the success of UK Education Tour in Baku 2012, and the UK – Azeri Scholarship Workshop held in London in March 2013, we return to Baku for a UK-only education exhibition and networking events, working once again with the Azeri Ministry of Education, SOCAR and SOFAZ.

The UK Education Tour is successfully promoting UK education as a high quality, high value option for private and scholarship students looking abroad for higher education.

We are now accepting registrations to exhibit at UK Education Tour Autumn 2013. Exhibition places are limited, and we will only accept registrations from UK universities and schools providing acadmic pathways. We will be exhibiting at the Hilton Hotel and targeting the exact segments suitable for UK universities and schools. Once again we will be working closely with the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education and local UK Alumni. Azerbaijan is seeing unprecedented economic growth and social mobility, and government scholarships are increasing to sponsor UG and PG students.

Baku, October 25: Visit to local university; Meeting with Ministry of Education, SOCAR, SOFAZ.

Baku, October 25: UK Universities Alumni party (tbc).

Baku, October 26: UKET exhibition – THE event for UK education in Azerbiajan. We prioritise quality over quantity, while ensuring enough interest for all exhibitors to recruit from the event. We are once again exhibiting at the Hilton Hotel. In the evening we will enjoy an informal dinner in a local, traditional restaurant.

Feedback for the UK Education Tour in Azerbaijan

“The event was very well organised, and the personal attention to detail was much appreciated. The students at the fair were of a good number and high quality, very focussed on education in the UK, which demonstrates very good marketing on your part”.
Rebecca Crookes, Sheffield Hallam University, (Azerbaijan, November 2012)

If you want to meet focused, qualified students in premier venues, then the UKET fairs should be your first choice when considering your marketing activities in Azerbaijan”.
David Thornber, Durham University (Azerbaijan, November 2012)



Fee for exhibition : £1595. Attendees of the Azeri Scholarship Workshop held in London in March will save £100.