Patrick Watson as usual gets the point and expresses it beautifully, and I warmly recommend his article. The Minister Hugo Swire gently chides the Council but we are still a mile away from any sort of level playing field (the prospect of which was pretty much ruled out anyway by the Triennial Review). The British Council, as we have said before, cannot compete fairly even in the unlikely event that it actually wanted to.
And now we learn that the British Council has contracted a company called "Verita" to adjudicate in the complaints process. About six years ago I signed up to an "independent" complaints process when the chair of the British Council, Lord Kinnock, contracted a "thorough and independent investigation" from a consultant. The outcome, which took almost a year, was a charade, a disgrace; in all that time the consultant actually spoke to nobody but myself, failed to make contact with the parties about whom I was complaining, did not even mention the specific complaints made or address the pile of evidence in his report, produced no evidence of any kind from the British Council, and without credible basis offered me £10,000 in "expenses".
Even the anodyne content of that report contained fundamental errors, and during the period of its preparation the consultant, a KCMG no less, actually took paid work from the British Council. All this was pointed out to the trustees, and their response was true to form; they ignored the points made and simply confirmed the £10,000 offer (which, having taken my point that the payment could not be for expenses since none had been claimed, had now become an "ex gratia payment") in full and final settlement. Which I refused. I'm not saying that Verita can't do a better job, but a) when a judge is paid by one side and not the other it's difficult to have much confidence in the process and b) the British Council has not only for years denied acting against the interests of British organisations active in international education, but also has an appalling record of denial, obfuscation and misrepresentation when attempts have been made to make matters better.
The British Council's use of the word "independent" is, put kindly, idiosyncratic and the reality of fair competition with the British Council is the same: in the purely hypothetical case that the organisation did compete fairly, it would - being fundamentally amateurish and rather better at BS than work - cease to exist. So it can't compete fairly, and any so called "independent" process that they have contracted will be bound to play along with the British Council's own "faux-monnayeur" interpretation of that word. Hugo Swire take note.