Edinburgh insists colleges will remain as charities

The Scottish Government has announced that it intends to maintain the charitable status of further education colleges in Scotland and will introduce "any legislation necessary to achieve this".

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator recently concluded that Glasgow's John Wheatley College of further education - and, by extension, all similar colleges - did not meet its charity test.

This was because the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 gives Scottish ministers a range of powers over colleges - including the power to remove trustees and close or merge bodies - that might conflict with requirements under Scottish charity law for charities to be independent from the state (Third Sector Online, 19 July).

A spokesman for the Scottish Government, which was known as the Scottish Executive until last week, told Third Sector that ministers had two options for solving the conflict of interest: amending the 1992 act, or exempting colleges from normal charity law requirements. There has been no decision yet on the preferred option or implementation process.

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