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The Guardian view on the British Council: an institution to be valued | Editorial

The government seems intent on punishing a public organisation that builds trust between nations When the UK departed the Erasmus+ scheme at the moment it left the European Union, there were justifiable cries of protest. Losing an exchange programme that enabled young people to enrich their education in Europe was one more needless loss, one more piece of collateral damage self-incurred as a result of the Conservatives’ hard Brexit. But Erasmus+ did not provide good value for money, said the universities minister, Michelle Donelan, and anyway the government would be creating an even better programme, Turing, to create exchanges for young people not just in Europe, but worldwide. The scheme was duly set up by the British Council. But earlier this month the Guardian revealed that Capita will be running the scheme from next year, having undercut the British Council by an unknown sum when the project was put out to tender. So it is that a scheme designed to build relationships between British and overseas students will be run not by the public body in charge of enhancing the UK’s reputation abroad, but by a giant outsourcing firm – one that has turned its hand, not always successfully, to everything from running London’s congestion charge zone to England’s cervical smear programme (the latter was brought back in-house by the NHS in 2019 after serious blunders were made). Continue reading...
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