Our history in Vietnam

The British Council is the United Kingdom's international cultural relations organisation founded in 1934. We have offices in 229 towns and cities in 110 countries and territories worldwide and have been in Vietnam since 1993.

1993

In the autumn of 1993 the first British Council Director, Muriel Kirton, arrived in Hanoi to set up a modest operation including English Language Training (ELT), information, education and science exchange programmes.

The British Council at that time was the cultural section of the British Embassy.

1994

The first UK/Vietnam exchange took place with higher education links forged between the Hanoi Science University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

The first series of ELT workshops were held across the country, introducing colleges and institutes to new English teaching methodologies.  

1995

English teaching for senior government officials and UK scholarship schemes were set up. Former Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, Pham Gia Khiem was among the first group of government officials participating in the ELT programme. 

This year also saw the introduction of two of Britain’s most important scholarship schemes managed by the British Council. Chevening was funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) while Technical Co-operation Training (TCT) was funded by the Department for International Development.

1996

The British Council moved from Ba Trieu street to a new office in Cao Ba Quat street in Hanoi. 

1997

In May, we opened a new office at 25 Le Duan, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.  

1998

The Millennium Book project started with the British Council making donations of 20th Century literature classics to 80 education organisations in Vietnam. In the first 10 years in Vietnam, over 150,000 books were donated .

1999

This was a year of high profile visits to Vietnam including Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, and Baroness Helena Kennedy the Chair of the British Council. 

We also started promoting UK education in order to provide Vietnamese students with access to the best information to assist them in making the right choices regarding study in the UK. 

2000

The first Education UK Exhibition was held with over 4,500 visitors. 

Our office moved from Cao Ba Quat street to 40 Cat Linh street in Hanoi.

2001

The British  Council in Vietnam was given independent status under an agreement  between Vietnam and UK governments signed by Nguyen Minh Hien, Minister of Education and Training and John Prescott MP, the British Deputy Prime Minister.

The UK Alumni Vietnam (UKAV), for Vietnamese people who had formerly studied in the UK, was launched. 

2002

The British Council in Vietnam opened its first English language teaching courses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for members of the public.

2003

We celebrated our five years of partnership with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra. To mark the occasion, a documentary film was commissioned by the BBC. It focused on conductor Colin Metters, who had worked extensively in Vietnam, as well as British Council’s own work in promoting classical music. The film, “Harmony in Hanoi” was premiered to the media in March at BAFTA’s screening studio in London.

2004

We launched new look, user-friendly websites in February, connecting UK ideas and innovation and British Council services in Vietnam.

2005

Selector, a weekly two-hour radio show featuring the best in UK contemporary music was launched and won gold award for best weekly radio programme at the 23rd Sony Academy Awards. 

The programme was represented at special events in Vietnam by the UK’s DJ Blakey, performing alongside innovative local artists such as Ngoc Khue, Ho Quynh Huong, Ho Ngoc Ha and dance group Big Toe.

2007

A Memorandum of Collaboration (MoC) was signed between the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), the UK’s Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families. The signing was witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan during a UK visit. 

In a subsequent official UK visit made by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, a formal Government to Government MoC was also signed with the British Council taking a coordinating role in its implementation.

2008

British Council’s office in Hanoi moved from Cat Linh street to Thuy Khue street during the summer.

Premier Skills, a partnership project leveraging coaching and teaching expertise was started. This brought together the brands and networks of the British Council and the Premier League to build skills using football for education and development purposes in Vietnam and worldwide. 

2009

On 6 October, British Council was awarded, under Decree 18, status as a “Foreign Independent Cultural and Education and Non-Profit Organisation”.

This recognised the UK and British Council’s long term commitment to Vietnam and its status as a trusted current and future partner and facilitator by the Vietnamese government.

2010

The contract to deliver Component 1 of the Justice Partnership Programme (JPP), jointly sponsored by the European Union, Danish and Swedish Embassies, was awarded to the British Council. This was to support reform efforts of the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuracy and the Vietnam Bar Federation and to assist in the strengthening of civil society organisations promoting access to justice.  

2011

British Council started delivering English language training to around 600 future Vietnamese leaders a year at our residential centre at Do Son, Haiphong. This continues to be sponsored by Program 165, of Communist Party of Vietnam. 

2012

We widened our offer of premium quality English language teaching to the public with two new teaching centres in Brendon Primary School in Hanoi and Le Quy Don High School in Ho Chi Minh City.  

UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, visited British Council in Hanoi on April 25 to discuss with Vietnamese university students on the topic of "Education Partnership for Prosperity".

2013

British Council in Vietnam took a lead role as key facilitator in the establishment of a Vietnam/UK International Standards University under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in the presence of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the Vietnam Communist Party. This took place during an official UK visit in January.