If you haven’t read John Ward’s piece on Hunt and the British Council, try it. And the comments at the end provide quite a lot of entertainment too. More will no doubt come when the Culture Secretary gets his turn with Lord Leveson.
I can’t (bear to) repeat here the whole sordid story going back to the saga of Study Choice, the double dealing, the public misrepresentation of the arrangements by the British Council, the secret contract switch, the attempt to bury the contracted company, the falsehood produced by the British Council in answer to a FoI enquiry, the devious activities that followed the initial failure of the site, and all that. The bottom line, as they say, is that companies controlled by Mr Hunt have held contracts to sell the British Council’s “Education UK” services since inception, and have therefore had a monopoly of the sales of this state-sponsored monopoly’s site. Nice work if you can get it.
And cosy (because he’s still got it).
But it’s also an absurd and embarrassing failure. If you go to the Education UK website and in the search box on the right choose Institutions and then Boarding Schools and leave the rest blank you will see that 1235 institutions are listed. Only 11 of them have paid for the British Council’s service (and at least two of them are not boarding schools anyway). Choose one of the 1224 others, and you get their phone number and postcode only. You also get a link which says “View all courses at this institution” but on every one of those 1224 links any user is told “No results”. How useless is that? And why on earth is the British Council allowed to serve this sector so badly? And even in the area where it claims world expertise and enjoys disproportionate power in the UK, English language teaching, only 107 of 499 institutions, or 21%, have been persuaded to part with any money. Because, of course, it is so effing useless. Which is one of many things the British Council has in common with government.