How the British Council develops international English and education contract opportunities

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1 How the British Council develops international English and education contract opportunities Purpose This document describes how the British Council develops and responds to English and education contract opportunities in international markets. This work is usually undertaken on behalf of local ministries of education, sometimes with funding from external agencies. Aims of our English and education contracts work The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries, and builds trust between them worldwide. In line with its Royal Charter, the British Council is focused on delivering its cultural relations objectives and works in many countries to build trust in the UK. Within these charitable objectives, we deliver support to education systems globally through our pursuit of English and education systems contract work. We build relationships and create partnerships with UK and local organisations, and develop local knowledge and understanding as an enabler for English and education contract work. Through this work, we aim to enhance the reputation of the UK as a provider of high quality educational solutions and services, and to generate value for the UK English and education sector. We work collaboratively with, but separate from, UKTI and UKTI Education. We aim to generate value to the UK through the pursuit of our mission. Requests for specific UK trade promotion should be directed to UKTI and UKTI Education, for example, requests for involvement in trade missions and events organised by UKTI or UKTI Education. Our respective responsibilities are outlined below: Contact the British Council for: Education partnership / business opportunities within a country; General enquiries about the education system and associated market opportunities within a country; Requests for marketing services under the British Council Services for International Education Marketing scheme (further details can be found here); Queries about Accreditation UK and our work to promote the UK as the destination of choice for English language learning; Queries about educational events which the British Council is hosting or participating in. Contact UKTI and UKTI Education for: Support in understanding the business opportunities that may exist for your company within a particular market; Support in accessing high value commercial education opportunities Trade missions, events and visits organised by UKTI or UKTI Education Other support to help you get started exporting or to grow your international footprint

2 Principles The British Council applies the following key principles when working on international English and education contracts. In particular we: Operate on an open and transparent basis: we share information about international markets and contract opportunities with the UK sector; Compete fairly: we apply a robust stage-gate process to aid decision-making around when to bid, when to partner and when to pass opportunities on to others; Apply consistent standards: we have minimum standards in place governing how our staff respond to opportunities and approaches from others in the sector; Work in partnership: we work collaboratively with UK government and education providers to position UK expertise, and aim to work in partnership where it adds value to the client or benefits the UK without reducing value for the client. How we work Sharing information with the UK sector Through our presence on the ground, we gain insight into market developments that may lead to opportunities for UK providers. Our country websites maintain the following minimum information: An overview of the country; An overview of the local education/ English landscape; An overview of British Council activity in the country. We are in the process of ensuring this information is in place across all our websites. If not yet available, our country offices will respond quickly to direct requests for this information (within 7 days). We operate within constrained resources in pursuit of our corporate plan and cultural relations mission. We do not have the resources to provide a high level of local or UK sector engagement in all markets equally, thus our responses and the availability of market information will differ accordingly. We often work with governments to help develop their English/ education policy, usually involving independent UK consultants and advisors, in line with our charitable objectives (consultants are selected either through an open call to the sector or from the British Council s Consultant Management Information System (CMIS) applications can be made to join the CMIS database here). Where this provides us with insights into English / education opportunities, which may be of value to UK providers, we share the findings through our websites and / or through events in-country or in the UK. If this information is sensitive or confidential, it will be shared with UKTI Education and an approach agreed. In our engagement with overseas governments, we promote the expertise and capabilities of the UK English and education sector. We will work with UKTI Education to develop a standardised presentation promoting UK interests, updated annually. (Note that this promotes the capabilities of the whole of the UK sector, not the interests of individual organisations.) Where we become aware of opportunities to bid for contract work over 100k 1 in value, with the consent of the contracting body, we will provide information to UKTI Education for publication on their Education 1 A threshold of 100k will be applied for the first year of application of this policy. The threshold will be reviewed in March 2016 and may be adjusted thereafter.

3 Opportunities website for international education opportunities identified by UK government departments and agencies. This site can be accessed here. Stage-gated decision-making process for opportunity development We apply a stage-gated approach to opportunity development for all contracts with an anticipated value of over 100k. This means that opportunities are reviewed carefully against a range of criteria prior to deciding whether we will pursue the opportunity, partner with others to pursue, or choose not to pursue. This is critical to our approvals process. An overview of this Stage-gate Approvals process is attached as Appendix 1, and applies to all English and education contract approvals. There is a gate-way between early stage scoping of opportunities and delivery, requiring assessment of the opportunity against a number of key criteria ( Opportunity Assessment Checklist attached at Appendix 2): A. Compliance with British Council fair competition policy (INSERT WEB-LINK) B. Fit with British Council mission, strategy and charitable objects C. Market prioritisation D. Financial value/ contribution to British Council economic sustainability E. Value to the UK F. Competitive environment (UK competitors and overseas competitors) G. Legal constraints. British Council Country Directors are accountable for reviewing opportunities and strive to achieve a balanced portfolio of activity generating value to the UK, as well as ensuring a sustainable financial model for the British Council, in line with the British Council mission and purpose. In respect of high value education opportunities in UKTI Education priority markets, there is close liaison between British Council and UKTI Education to align objectives wherever possible and share market opportunities with the UK education sector, recognising the need for sustainability of British Council activity. British Council priorities are set out in its Corporate Plan, which is agreed annually with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, following extensive consultation with multiple government departments and key external stakeholders. The outcomes of the Stage-gate Approvals process and Opportunity Assessment Checklist are recorded at a local level and reviewed and/ or approved at regional/ global level depending on the size of the opportunity. In particular, these records will provide an auditable record of the British Council s rationale for bidding. Consistent standards We have a large network of staff spread across the world. We strive for consistency in how we implement our decision-making processes (the Stage-gate Approvals process and the Opportunity Assessment Framework) and in how we respond to approaches/ enquiries from other UK providers. We expect our staff to provide excellent customer service and to respond quickly to enquiries from UK providers (acknowledged within 3 days, and a response within 7 days). We will not be able to support UK providers equally in all locations (resource constraints, conflict of interest, etc, may impinge). Nevertheless, we will respond promptly with a clear explanation of the reasons why we can/ cannot assist. A copy of our Fair Competition and the process for complaints arising on fair competition grounds are available here. Working in partnership We work in partnership with the UK sector in a wide variety of ways at different stages of opportunity development sometimes in a lead role, but other times as a subsidiary partner.

4 We work on the assumption that working in partnership has the potential to deliver a better outcome than working alone (for the client and/or recipient). However, partnership can sometimes be prohibitive (e.g. on cost grounds). The submission of bids usually takes place under considerable time-pressure to meet an externally imposed deadline. When advertising English/ education bidding opportunities (through UKTI Education s website), we will ask organisations to contact us if they are interested in working in partnership. We will select partners on the basis of the most feasible and transparent procurement. Alongside this, British Council may approach some organisations. We will invite UK organisations interested in partnership to submit information through an open procurement process, highlighting the kinds of opportunities that they are interested in pursuing. This information is refreshed on an annual basis, creating a roster of UK organisations with interests in partnering with the British Council. When the decision to work in partnership has been made, we will assign resource to support the partnership and work openly with our partners throughout each stage of the project cycle. Where we have selected partners to work with us on projects, we do so on the basis of their capabilities and skills to meet the client s requirements and on value-for-money grounds. If the client feels that their requirements are better met by the British Council bidding alone or as lead partner, then we may respond to bids on that basis (assuming that we can satisfy ourselves that we can deliver to a high standard). In such circumstances there are often opportunities for the British Council to bring in UK suppliers to deliver some elements of the contract on a sub-contracting basis. We will record how we have made decisions about working in partnership on our Opportunity Development Checklist. Implementation The British Council will pilot these recommendations from April 2015 to March 2016, and will monitor feedback and review the effectiveness of their implementation during April The review will be aimed at understanding how successfully we have implemented our new approach. External feedback will be gathered as part of that review. Feedback Your feedback on this policy is valued. Please with your comments on an on-going basis.

5 Appendix 1 Stage-Gate Approvals Process Gate 1 Idea Opportunity Identified Gate 2- Concept Note/Expression of Interest Gate 3 Business Case/Proposal Submission Gate 4 Review/ Negotiation Purpose/Charter Value to UK Sector alignment Pursue opportunity alone, partner with others to pursue, or decide not to pursue Potential impact on intended beneficiaries Income/funding source Firewall Profitability Internal stakeholder agreements Resources to design Resources to deliver Partner arrangements Risk assessment Conflict of interest Review and confirm Gate 1 assessments Partner and consortium arrangements Key experts Due diligence Quality of technical plan Risk management plan Management arrangements External stakeholder engagement Status & tax Cost, price and surplus Quality of technical design Innovation Impact Staffing model Contract assessment Risk controls Tolerance for change set Cost, price and surplus Technical amendments Changes to personnel Staffing model Contract

6 Opportunity Assessment Checklist Appendix 2 This template is used by British Council staff in helping them to decide whether they should pursue an opportunity, partner with others to pursue, or decide not to pursue. It feeds into Gate 1 of the Stage-Gate Approvals Process. Q# Key questions Yes/ No SECTION A Fair trading A1 Is the pursuit of this opportunity compliant with British Council fair competition policy? Provide evidence Guidance for BC Staff Must answer YES and provide evidence to proceed further. If NO, do not pursue further. If BC has been supporting the development of government policy and plans in this area, it is particularly important to demonstrate how we are operating on a fair basis. If client has approached BC only, document rationale for proceeding. Is client willing to consider full tendering process? BC should highlight broad range of UK capability. SECTION B - Mission/ fit with BC cultural relations and strategy B1 Does BC delivery contribute to achievement of BC's cultural relations mission/ deliver on its charitable objectives? How? SECTION C Market prioritisation C1 Is delivery of the opportunity within this market in line with British Council Corporate Plan and market priorities (as agreed by FCO in consultation with other UK government Must answer YES and provide evidence to proceed further. If NO, do not pursue further. BC will not pursue opportunities that do not fit with its core purpose. If the opportunity does not fit with current market priorities, clearly document why we should pursue it (e.g. any over-riding reason/ rationale). Robust evidence must be provided.

7 departments)? SECTION D - Financial value D1 Does pursuit of this opportunity contribute to a sustainable financial model for the British Council? SECTION E - Value to UK E1 Does a BC bid add value to the UK? Against which measures? (mark all that apply and supply evidence for each) E1.1 Aligned to UK ODA criteria/ grant-in-aid priorities? E1.2 Working in partnership thus delivering direct economic / financial benefit to UK company? Document how partner has been selected. E1.3 Opens up the market for other UK organisations to gain future opportunities? (document how) E1.4 Brings wider benefit to the UK? (document how) SECTION F - Competition issues F1 Does British Council delivery inhibit long term market opportunity for the UK? SECTION G Value to client Country (or Regional) Director must consider overall portfolio of activity within the geography, and be able to demonstrate a balance between a sustainable financial model for BC and value to UK. Country Director should ensure that there is a balanced portfolio of English/ education contracts within the country, and that evidence of value to UK is documented. Value to the BC is not sufficient to demonstrate value to the UK. Higher value to the UK is expected in countries which are considered as high priority markets by UK government. When working in partnership, document how the partner was selected. If YES, do not proceed. Responses should be documented and informed by market knowledge and understanding of UK interests, including presence of UK organisations / SMEs in the market. In particular, the impact of BC delivery on UK SMEs should be documented.

8 G1 G2 Does BC have distinctive capabilities that place it in strong position to add value for the client? Will BC delivery prevent client sourcing a solution from a competitor country? Provide objective evidence of BC s strengths and capabilities as they relate to client need. Provide objective evidence that BC delivery will prevent the opportunity going to a competitor country. SECTION H Legal/ tax constraints H1 Does BC have all necessary permissions to operate legally in the country? H2 Are appropriate financial procedures in place to allow invoicing/ income collection? H3 Are tax obligations understood? Provide evidence that tax/ legal issues have been considered especially in countries where BC does not have local presence.

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