Nicholas Bamforth correctly notes that Hefce "is restricted in using its powers under charity legislation" ("There's no need to be charitable over external governor appointments", 6 August). He implies that Hefce has an additional armoury at its disposal, but in reality, we will soon have just one extra power: to collect information that we consider necessary to discharge our duty as a principal regulator. We can start using it only when the Charities Act 2006's exempt-charity regulation provisions come into force, probably at the end of this year.
What will change is that most of the Charity Commission's powers can be applied to English higher education institutions that are exempt charities, as they already do in respect of the 18 that are registered charities. Things will be different in Wales, where all institutions will become registered charities regulated by the Charity Commission.
Hefce's duty as principal regulator will be "to promote compliance by institutions' trustees with their (charity-law) obligations". With this in mind, we have set up an email group, charityreg-hefce, where we will publicise charity-law developments - including the new regulatory regime - that are relevant to the sector.
Andrew Malin, Assurance consultant, Higher Education Funding Council for England.