Fund for International Student Co-operation

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The Fund for International Student Co-operation was based in London and aimed to "'further co-operation among students of the free world'. Under its organiser, Scottish manager of the European Movement and future Labour MP George Foulkes, it held seminars for Third World students visiting Britain and organised weekend seminars for NUS officials. In 1967, the Radical Student alliance issued a pamphlet... which speculated that FISC was a CIA front. FISC officials vigorously denied the claim"[1] FISC shared an office with the Overseas Student Trust.

The Secretary of the fund from 1965-67 was Margaret Ramsay who had previously (from 1962) been Associate secretary at the International Student Conference which was a CIA front. She later (in 1969) joined MI6.[2]

Among their activities FISC organised a trip to Chile in 1966:

Jack Straw was branded "chief trouble-maker" by the British embassy in Chile while on a student trip that nearly ended in disgrace, according to secret papers released today. The report, into how the student visit to help build a youth centre came to a "nearly disastrous" end, accused Mr Straw of deliberately trying to cause "a minor scandal" for the purposes of "childish politicking" within the National Union of Students (NUS).
In a strongly worded dispatch from the first secretary at the British embassy in Santiago, the future foreign secretary's student group were described as "somewhat less than ideal representatives of British youth". The 1966 trip was organised by the now closed Fund for International Student Co-operation and designed to foster closer relations between British and Chilean students.
But a letter to the Foreign Office from AJD Stirling dated September 23, 1966 described the students as "depressingly immature". Stirling wrote: "I understand that about half of them have aspirations to office in the NUS and most seemed more interested in advancing their own or their associates' candidacies than in the job on hand. "Their childish politicking and the disorganisation to which they arrived hastened the splitting of the party into quarrelling factions." Three years later Mr Straw became president of the NUS, a post he held until 1971.[3]

In 1988/89 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office gave FISC £76,000.[4] In 1989 George Foulkes, for it was he, complained in the House of commons about the ending of grants to the FISC:

I mentioned earlier the work of the Overseas Students Trust. In its report, "The Next Steps", it pays tribute to the vital support and collaboration of the Fund for International Student Co-operation in producing the report and in its work generally. It represents the kind of public and private collaboration often praised by Government spokesmen, with the private funding to the trust complemented by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office grant to FISC. It was therefore with great dismay that I heard recently that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office grant to FISC is to end. We are due an explanation from the Minister which I hope he will be able to give later in the debate. There seems to be no reason for that decision unless it be that the excellent work of the OST-FISC consortium may have caused the Government some embarrassment so retribution has to be exacted. I hope that the Minister will reconsider that regrettable decision.[5]


  1. ^ Stephen Dorril, MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations, London: Fourth Estate, p. 475.
  2. ^ Stephen Dorril, MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations, London: Fourth Estate, p. 475.
  3. ^ Staff and agencies Student Straw 'chief troublemaker' on Chile trip The Guardian, Thursday March 6, 2003 12.15pm update
  4. ^ Overseas Students (Funding) 7 March 1989.