Charitable status quo

June 27, 1997

OXBRIDGE colleges say a full-scale review of registered charities is unlikely to have any effect on their charitable status, writes Harriet Swain.

The Charity Commission is considering a review of all its 181,000 charities, which include a number of universities and colleges, for the first time since it was set up in 1961.

A commission spokesman said: "What was seen as charitable then is not necessarily seen as charitable now. Times change. This is a way of looking through the register and keeping it up to date."

She said commissioners had not yet decided whether schools, colleges and universities would be included in the review, which is likely to insist that organisations show their activities are primarily to help the community.

Anthony Smith, president of Magdalen College, Oxford said: "We have been supporting the same good cause of education for many hundreds of years.

"We don't do anything else with our money. I can't see how a review by the charity commission would have any effect."

Jessica Rawson, warden of Merton College, Oxford, said: "We conduct ourselves like a charity already.

"It might affect the odd project of a college but we are very firmly controlled by statutes governed by the Crown. We comply with charitable status," she said.

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