A new Education UK website went up last week. This new site was to show us, as you may recall, “a completely different way of looking at life and study in the UK”. I have been told many times that I have given far too much help to the British Council already, so this time I’ll give only a little.
Let’s start with a small piece of good news: Education UK has dropped any pretence that it can provide a service to the boarding school sector. It is an important part of the country’s international education provision, but the sector has had the very good sense not to pay for the abominable service offered by the British Council for the past 8 years, and so there was no point in continuing to hassle them. If the site had dropped the other sectors where better provision also exists elsewhere it would have been further improved of course, but that was perhaps too much to hope.
So what have we got? You open up with a picture of what I believe to be a tropical butterfly on to whose wings our environmentally sensitive cultural representatives have crassly chalked “UK”. This crude idea (would we like to see this or any other nonsense chalked on to a Red Admiral or a Meadow Brown, or any species native to the British Isles?) provides a laboured platform for their “where ideas take flight” strapline. I think that must be the bit that is completely new. Otherwise there are links to information or disinformation (see the picture) together with embarrassing and patronising lines such as “you can think for yourself, make your own decisions”.
Setting aside the tiresome imagery and the vacuous commentary, what about the functionality? Look on the right hand side of the screen where you will find the “Search for inspiration” box, the “My Personal” section and the course search. “You have not bookmark any page yet” it permanently and ungrammatically advises, “you need to be logged into save your shortlist and a lot more”. I would like to hope nobody is paying for this copy. Some hope.
Last year I made a number of videos about how Education UK performed a disservice to UK institutions, and one of these took Loughborough University as a worked example. That video demonstrated how a search for a course on Physical Education on Education UK failed to include Loughborough, an institution which is justly famous for exactly that. On the new site a search for Physical Education does indeed find Loughborough. Hurrah. But the first course to be listed for Loughborough University when I made the search just now was “Engineering Physics”. Even in the unlikely event that our putative Physical Education student was interested in such a course, and so clicked where it says “course detail”, there is no course detail. It is, in other words, worse than useless. And so to our conclusion: Education UK is a paradigm for the British Council.