Tailored review of the British Council: terms of reference

This document gives the framework for a review of the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.



Founded in 1934, the British Council is a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. The organisation creates friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries it works with, changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

The British Council works with over 100 countries in arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. In 2016 to 2017 it reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, through broadcasts and publications. Most of the British Council’s income is raised from English teaching and exams, projects and contracts in education and development, and from partnerships with public and private organisations. Surplus earned from this work is recycled back into the business for more cultural relations work. A total of 14.7% of its income is grant-in-aid from the UK government.

The aims of the British Council are aligned with UK policy objectives and included in its Annual Report and Accounts:

  • security and stability: make a lasting difference to the security of the UK and to stability worldwide by creating opportunities and connections in fragile and conflict-affected states to build resilience and respond to crises
  • prosperity and development: contribute to the UK’s prosperity and to development in the countries we work with by building trust, connections and skills, which create favourable conditions for growth
  • influence and attraction: contribute to the UK’s international influence and attraction in the world by building mutually beneficial connections and long-lasting relationships between the people of the UK and countries we work with
Published 19 July 2018