This talk of the British Council representing "public diplomacy" can be really irksome - try this for size. In Pakistan the British Council and the British High Commission are doing to small business there what they do elsewhere – trying to knock it out. The British Council may claim on their own site to have "trained" 29 agencies in Pakistan, but what use is that when, as reported in today’s Daily Times, students are told, from the horse’s mouth, not to use agents if they want a visa? Perhaps our comfortable publicly funded representatives in Pakistan, unaware of what life is like when you have to earn a living through enterprise, expect the agents there to just roll over and find something else to do. Or is it perhaps more likely that Australia, New Zealand and other destinations will enjoy an increased market share, as agents turn away from Britain in disgust? The only thing that is certain is that agents in Pakistan, and especially those who in good faith signed up for British Council “training”, can see more clearly that the British Council is not to be trusted. QED.
With the post 9/11 and 7/7 visa and immigration preoccupation, the British Council has been handed an opportunity which has them rubbing their hands with glee. It is trying, with apparent success, to use its ins with the Home Office to get monopoly control of private sector English language teaching in the UK through its accreditation scheme, and by linking its accreditation to the issuance of visas. If it can pick off overseas territories by colluding with embassies and high commissions to discredit independent local agencies, it can aspire to external control of British education as well. Educational institutions in the UK, like agents overseas, would be well advised not to allow this to happen, as the result will be a sharp decline in the market, as surely as night follows day.