Posts Tagged ‘UK Public Diplomacy’

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Documents on British Scholarships and Visits

November 10, 2015

The role of scholarships, exchanges and visits in British public diplomacy is pretty much a black hole in terms of both policy attention and academic interest so I was interested to come across a Foreign Office review of Scholarship programmes from March of this year.

The review discusses three programmes Chevening, Commonwealth and Marshall. In general terms these all provide support for post graduate study in the UK. Chevening is intended to ‘support foreign policy priorities…by creating lasting positive relationships with future leaders’, Commonwealth ‘to contribute to international development’ and Marshall to ‘strengthen UK-US relationship’. Chevening currently in recent years Chevening has had 650 students a year but for no clearly defined reason this is rising to 1,700, Commonwealth has around 900 awards funded by DFID and Marshall 30-35.

The report offers a mass of detail including recommendations from internal reviews and if you’re interested in scholarships and exchanges I would certainly recommend it.

However in reading it becomes clear that this is a typical British government document in its relentless focus on efficiency and rationalization and the almost total neglect of what the point of all this activity is. The reviewer, who is a former banker who is now the chair of “The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation” which “regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications” seems most concerned that the management structure of the Chevening programme is different from the other two – which are run by independent commissions and argues for a common management structure via a Scholarships Commission, which would be sponsored by the FCO (not sure what DFID would think of this).

However, these aren’t the only programmes that the government runs. Here’s a link to the FCO International Leaders Programme Strategy for 2014/15 that runs through the benefits of bringing leaders from the Emerging Powers to the UK in the manner of the US International Leaders Programme.

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A Tale of Two Diasporas: Chinese Control and British Indifference

August 18, 2014

At the Wall Street Journal Blog there’s an interview with James Jiann Hua To, about his book Qiaowu: Extra-Territorial Policies for the Overseas Chinese. This discusses the policies adopted by China to monitor, protect and supervise the tens of millions of Chinese citizens who live outside the borders of the PRC

As To puts it

The purpose of qiaowu is to rally support for Beijing amongst ethnic Chinese outside of China through various propaganda and thought-management techniques. For the vast majority of the 48 million overseas Chinese around the world, many will be oblivious to qiaowu and its activity. The main target groups are those who are open to and even welcome receiving qiaowu and closer links to China and its foreign service, such as newer migrants or PRC students abroad.

In contrast last weeks Economist had a piece on the British diaspora.  Despite five million Brits living abroad the message is the UK doesn’t really care:

Of 193 UN member states, 110 have formal programmes to build links with citizens abroad. Britain is not one of them. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s database of Britons abroad is patchy. Of all the high-flying expats with British passports your correspondent asks, only one—Danny Sriskandarajah, a migration expert based in South Africa—has had any contact with local embassies or with UKTI, Britain’s trade-promotion body. And his Indian friend has received much more attention from his consulate.

Indeed, India is a trailblazer in this field. It has an entire ministry for its emigrants. Mr Gamlen says it partly has this to thank for the success of its IT industry, built by Indians lured home from Silicon Valley and Europe. Other countries are similarly welcoming. Italy and France even reserve parliamentary seats for their diasporas.

Just because a country has a programme it doesn’t mean that it does anything but it’s interesting to note a certain continuity. After the First World War the British government mounted an enquiry into why some expatriate communities didn’t seem to have been as helpful to the war effort as those of some other countries. The report recommended programmes to cultivate British identity including subsidies for British schools. In another continuity the Treasury said there wasn’t any money (eg Fisher J (2009) A Call to Arms: The Committee on British Communities Abroad, 1919-1920, Canadian Journal of History, 44: 261–86.)

It’s tempting to attribute this difference in official attitude to regime type(authoritarian control versus democratic indifference and I’m sure that this is part of it, but France and Germany have always had extensive provision for expatriates regardless of political regime.   Part of the difference is can be attributed to differences in how these four countries conceptualize the nation. This is an issue I’ll pick up in my next post.

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FCO Budget Cuts

October 20, 2010

The results of the comprehensive spending round have been announced and it is cuts nearly all around.  Interestingly the Foreign Office seems to have got off relatively lightly.  The headline cut is 24% but a large chunk of this actually offset by the transfer of BBC World Service funding to the BBC from the 2014-15 financial year.

The press release with details is reproduced below.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Over the course of the Spending Review period the FCO will see a 24% real terms reduction in the resource budget, and a 55% real terms reduction in capital spending. The Department’s Administration budget will be reduced by 33%.
The settlement provides for an increase in the FCO’s Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) spending to help meet the Government’s commitment to dedicating 0.7% of Gross National Income to ODA by 2013 – the FCO’s contribution to UK ODA spending will increase from around 2% in 2010/11 to around 2.4% in 2011/12.
The settlement also continues to provide grants to both the World Service and the British Council, though at a reduced level. From 2014-15 the BBC World Service will be funded by the BBC, but the Foreign Secretary will retain his veto over any decisions to cut language services.
Once the additional resources from the BBC are taken into account the rest of the FCO budget will only fall by 10% over the period.

  2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Resources 1.4 1.5 1.5 1.4 1.2
Capital 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Total 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.5 1.3

Figures in £Bn
The FCO will manage these reductions by:
• Continuing to simplify, standardise and streamline support and corporate functions to reduce the burden on front line activities. This includes cutting the cost of management and support work through increased outsourcing, an increase in the tasks carried out by local staff, and a consolidation of financial, human resources, procurement and other activities regionally or within the UK;
• Reducing the costs of our overseas estate and looking for opportunities to reduce our estate in London. This includes looking to co-locate and rationalise the Government’s different operations overseas, for example moving into single premises in countries where the FCO, DfID and other government bodies are in separate buildings;
• Looking for savings through improved procurement practice including, where appropriate, co-procuring with other Departments and greater use of central framework contracts; and,
• Reviewing the FCO’s global and programme expenditure to ensure it is in line with the Foreign Secretary’s three priorities of safeguarding Britain’s national security, Building Britain’s prosperity and Supporting British nationals around the world.
The Department is looking to rationalise different overseas functions including functions such as HR, IT, finance, transactions, and procurement with other Departments. This idea was suggested through the Governments Spending Challenge process. We will also look at other common ways of operating, including terms and conditions of service for local staff.
These reductions come after a 10% reduction in real terms spending power over recent years caused by the abolition of the overseas price mechanism (OPM) under the previous Government. To give the FCO the budgetary certainty that it needs to operate and plan effectively the settlement provides for a new foreign currency mechanism (FCM) to better manage exchange rate risk. Under this system, the Foreign Office will be compensated for falls in the pound, but will have to return money to the Treasury when the pound rises, giving the Foreign Office certainty over the value of its budget.
A proportion of FCO spending contributes to the government’s Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) objectives. ODA spending includes resources to support fragile states, to prevent conflict and to promote stability in critical regions. All FCO ODA work will meet the international OECD criteria and be properly reviewed.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
“Reducing the huge deficit left by the last government is essential to getting Britain back to recovery. This settlement ensures the Foreign Office will play its part, while also maintaining our global reach and forging a distinctive British approach to foreign policy. The FCO’s global network is key to building our prosperity and to strengthening our security, as set out in the National Security Strategy earlier this week.
“The settlement also overturns the last government’s disastrous decision to end exchange rate protection for the Foreign Office budget. That change led to a 10% fall in FCO spending, with our foreign policy determined by exchange rate fluctuations, not a serious assessment of Britain’s place in the world.
“The BBC World Service and British Council are and will remain fundamentally important parts of Britain’s presence in the world. The transfer of BBC World Service funding to the Licence Fee in 2014-15 will enhance and safeguard the World Service’s vital role, allowing the BBC as a whole maximum scope to exploit efficiencies while also maintaining clear safeguards for BBC World Service funding and impartiality.”