Polly Toynbee rightly identifies education and culture as our most valuable international assets (1 March). Our research clearly shows that these – and the English language – are vital in attracting talent, trade and tourism. She is also right that perceptions about UK immigration policy must not be allowed to pull out the welcome mat from under hard-working international students.
There is a clear case for continued investment in education and culture – but those of us who are able must adapt to an age of austerity. Public service organisations like the British Council, the BBC and UK universities already look to the world to earn and partner to deliver more public benefit at less cost to the public purse. For entrepreneurial public services and private sector providers in education and culture, the global demand is immense. To know the UK is to love the UK – but it starts with seeing all the world as our stage and throwing open our own doors wide enough to let talent in.
Director of Strategy, British Council