Rundown: Programs for Filipinos that boost UK-Philippines ties this 2023

This composite shows photos featuring the programs of British Council in the Philippines. (British Council Philippines/Facebook)

The British Council in the Philippines, the United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, is beefing up the linkages between UK and Philippines through the expansion of arts, English, education and research programs for Filipinos this year.

The organization, now marking its 45th anniversary in the Philippines, has established itself as one of the leaders in international education and cultural education with its projects that build connections between the two countries through education, arts, English and exams.

From left to right:Danie Gonzalvo, Education program manager; Pierre Pecson, Head of education; Lotus Postrado, Country director; Mich Dulce, head of Arts, Mike Cabigon, Business development manager for exams. (British Council in the Philippines/Released)

Lotus Postrado, the country director of British Council in the Philippines, said that their organization has so far worked with thousands of students, educators, policymakers, academics, researchers, creatives and entrepreneurs in the Philippines in various initiatives and programs.

“This year, we are committed to continuing to explore and expand on where we can bring impact – from market insights for international education to the UK’s vibrant arts and creative industries, and all matters that can further strengthen the UK-Filipino linkages,” Postrado said in a media briefing last March 29.

During the briefing, the org enumerated education and English proficiency, research and art-related programs lined up for Filipinos this year. Among these expanded programs are the following:

Education and English proficiency programs

With the UK remaining to be seen as one of the top study destinations for Filipino students, the British Council in the country is eying to expand the education and English proficiency programs. These programs support quality, inclusion, and innovation in higher education.

It is offering resources for students who would like to pursue degrees abroad through Study UK.

“The UK’s Graduate Route enables international students who complete their degrees to stay in the UK for post-study opportunities for two or three years,” Pierre Pecson, British Council in the Philippines’ head of education said.

“Students who have studied in the UK can also have access to fellow alumni and exclusive webinars and events that can make the most out of their UK education through our Alumni UK platform,” he added.

Pecson also said that the organization is also supporting programs that give Filipino students access to international quality education standards and degree programs from both the UK and the Philippines.

This was in line with the Transnational Higher Education Act (TNE), signed into law in August 2019. The organization supported the crafting of TNE.

The British Council said that there are eight UK-Philippines partnerships created under the organizations’ projects and it is working on growing more collaborations this year.

It also announced that the council will develop new degrees in support of the Commission on Higher Education’s TNE strategy through its flagship program, Access and Competitiveness through Internationalization of Higher Education (ACT-IHE).

Apart from the lineup of educational programs, the British Council is also known for supporting International English Language Testing System takers.

It seeks to expand its network of IELTS testing centers nationwide this year.

“We are working on opening more IELTS (International English Language Testing System) on Computer centres in the Philippines to make it more accessible for Filipinos to take the English test,” Mike Cabigon, British Council in the Philippines’ business development manager for exams said.

“We have enabled over half a million Filipinos to fulfill their dream to live, work, or study overseas through our English and Exams initiatives, and we hope to continue to be enablers in the achievement of our fellow Filipinos’ dreams and aspirations,” he added.

It would also continue to offer the annual IELTS Prize, or the org’s scholarship program that supports students to pursue studies in higher education.

Students who have taken the IELTS from the British Council to apply for admission into local or overseas universities may apply for this scholarship. The application process will be announced the coming months.

Philippine research grants, partnership

The British Council is also behind some research projects in the country. They are providing grants and partnerships in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiatives in the Philippines, alongside other fields such as social sciences, education and sustainability.

This month, the organization published “Science Beyond Borders,” an anthology of case studies on research partnerships which documents the stories of program scholars, program partners and their contributions as supported by the Newton Agham Program. The latter is a joint initiative of the UK and the Philippines in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and CHED.

The New Agham Program had a nine-year-run that concluded last month. It supported research on national priorities of the Philippines from health sciences and agrotechnology to resilience and energy, among many others.

The council also recently launched the third run of the Women in STEM scholarships, offering postgraduate scholarships for Filipinas to further their studies in the UK. This seeks to empower more women to pursue careers in STEM, while also opening them to opportunities worldwide.

“Championing professionals in the research and sciences are essential in advancing knowledge and programs that address various societal concerns, as well as capacity building and boosting the Philippines’ global competitiveness,” Danie Son Gonzalvo, British Council in the Philippines’ education program manager said.

“The launch of Science Beyond Borders and the ongoing Women in STEM program is a way for us to support these talents and contribute to the country’s nation-building,” he added.

The council said they are looking into widening the grants and partnerships initiative beyond STEM to cover more field of studies.

Cultural and art projects

For its work in the arts, the British Council focuses on three areas, namely, cultural exchange, creative economy and art’s response to global challenges.

For cultural exchange, the organization announced lined up grants that aim to empower the Filipino music industry. This includes the support for the delegates of Brighton’s music industry conference, The Great Escape.

This year, the country has two grantees, Mike Constantino, the ounder and chief executive officer of Homonym and Cattski Espina, founder and CEO of 22 Tango Music Group. The Philippines usually has only one grantee for The Great Escape but Mich Dulce, British Council in the Philippines’ head of arts said there are two delegates chosen for their achievements in the local music scene.

The grantees will be sharing their learnings in the industry through the SONIK Music Expert Session, slated in June 2023.

“The Philippines has a vibrant music industry with artists coming from all over the nation. Through SONIK, we hope to inspire local artists to get opportunities in the global music scene and build themselves as professionals through the series of learning sessions showing best practices with UK music experts,” Dulce said.

Aside from Constantino and Espina, the organization is also supporting Paul Jaytana, co-founder of the rave community Elephant, to speak at Sound City Conference. This conference is the UK’s independent music conference and Association of Independent Music UK’s “Conference in The North.”

It will take place on April 28 in Liverpool. The conference is happening alongside the three-day Sound City Liverpool festivities featuring local, national and international emerging talents.

Representing the Filipino LGBTQIA+ community, this will open opportunities for Jaytana to talk about gender equality in the music scene and how Elephant enabled a safe space for all while promoting platforms for marginalized artists in the drag and music scene.

“It is important to me that I get to represent the queer community that I belong to and to raise awareness of the achievements and learning curves that we face –especially on the political and economic influence on queer nightlife psychology. I am also very keen to learn from other queer communities from other parts of the world and to understand how they customize and create their own safe space,” Jatayna said.

The British council also said it is thrilled to have Jaytana represent the Philippines and the Filipino queer community at Liverpool Sound City.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion have always been part of the British Council’s values, and it’s fantastic that Paul will have the opportunity to share the stories of our LGBTIQIA+ community to the rest of the world,” Dulce said.

Apart from the music scene, the organization is also supporting sustainable crafting in the country through the second phase of its Woven Networks program, in partnership with Forest Foundation Inc.

Dulce shared that four grantees will receive support to work with UK collaborators to implement projects, culminating with a showcase in November this year.

Still centering on response to global changes and the theme of its works combatting climate change, the British Council is teaming up with Active Vista Center for the Climate Film Lab. This is in partnership with the UK organization, Picture People. Their project focuses on creative education, empowering creatives with skills, knowledge and confidence to use visual media and technology to advocate for change.

Meanwhile, on the creative economy side, the council will push through with its partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry to support the national government in building up the Philippines’ creative economy, connecting the Philippines to the UK to learn from the UK’s best practices for the creative industries.

To further introduce the programs in education, culture and the arts, the council celebrated all things British through performances, food, and festivities in The Great British Festival held from March 25 to 26 in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

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