Scottish Government
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Charitable status for colleges

The final piece of legislation to protect the charitable status of Scotland's colleges comes into force today.

The order addresses the power of Ministers to require a college to hand over the proceeds of a sale of its assets. In the very unlikely event that, should in the future Ministers choose to exercise this power, the proceeds will now go to an educational charity nominated by Ministers, rather than directly to Ministers.

This avoids possible conflict with charity law which requires that charity assets must always be used for a charitable purpose.

The order addresses the second of two separate concerns raised by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator(OSCR).

Last June the Parliament exempted colleges from the standard requirement that a charity must operate free from Ministerial control.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Fiona Hyslop, said:

"Our colleges make a huge contribution in many areas, delivering key employment skills to keep businesses competitive and promoting access and inclusion to encourage more people into learning.

"They have also started to reposition themselves to help people who need new skills and training to get back into work or stay in work during the current economic climate, ensuring that Scotland can emerge strongly from the current downturn. Overall, they deliver considerable public benefit and I believe their charitable status should be preserved and protected.

"This Government has moved swiftly to address the problem we inherited. Parliament agreed last summer to exempt colleges from the requirement to operate completely independently of Ministers. This final step addresses a Ministerial power which is no longer used but which, because it has never been repealed, threatened the charitable status of our colleges. This was because there was nothing to specify how any portion of a sale, passed to Ministers, should be used.

"This order will ensure any such proceeds are paid to an educational charity named by Ministers, rather than be paid directly to Ministers. It represents the very last brick in the wall in our steps to protect the charitable status of Scotland's colleges - interests which are well worth protecting."

Chris Travis, Chief Executive of Scotland's Colleges, said:

"We welcome the announcement that the final legal amendments have been made to safeguard the charitable status of Scotland's Colleges.

"The campaign by Scotland's Colleges to retain charitable status has been ongoing for four years, so the final piece of legislation coming into force today will provide peace of mind for the entire sector. Retaining charitable status is vital to the future of the college sector in Scotland and the Government's resolution means that individuals, businesses and communities across the country can continue to benefit from the first-class educational opportunities provided by Scotland's Colleges."

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