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Charities regulator off target

9 January 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU has called for the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator to rethink its list of bodies at risk of losing charitable status which includes universities, colleges and student associations.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, OSCR, lists in its Rolling Review - further proposals for consultation, organisations that are most at risk of losing charitable status. Most of the organisations are listed because they may not meet one of the criteria for being a charity even if these institutions are already heavily regulated as public bodies.

In the rest of the UK universities are exempt from the charities commission but their charitable activities are still regulated in line with their other activities. To take away the charitable status would seem perverse if universities in the rest of the UK maintained that status at a time when they are charging top-up fees to all students. It would also give them a further financial advantage.

UCU believes it is a waste of tax payer's money to review such organisations simply because they do not meet a requirement in an act which was not designed to apply to such bodies. If universities lost charitable status it would mean the loss of public money for no good reason and offset the increase that the Scottish executive made to universities.

Additionally student associations carry out much work of a charitable nature but are again being reviewed because of an act that was never designed to apply to them.

Alastair Hunter, president of UCU Scotland said: 'We are much more concerned about charitable giving to bodies that misuse such funds and do not deserve to be charities. These are the charities that should be reviewed in the first phase rather than reviewing bodies that are bone fide organisations which already have full accountability as public bodies.

We call on OSCR to review the list of bodies and concentrate on bodies that fail on major criteria rather than the minor regulations. At the very least universities and student associations should be reviewed as a group rather than each individual case.'

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