Mary Synge, ‘Regulation of universities as charities: one step forward, two steps back’

Most universities (bar profit-making institutions) are charities as a matter of law but, historically, have been exempt from charity law regulation. This paper considers the statutory reforms of 2006, which sought to level the regulatory playing field by appointing ‘Principal Regulators’ of such ‘exempt charities’ to promote compliance with charity law. Focusing on the university sector – where some universities are now registered charities (and regulated by the Charity Commission) whilst others remain exempt – it will note how the reforms have resulted in the application of significantly different degrees of scrutiny and accountability, both between individual universities and between universities and other charities. In part, this is due to the statutory framework itself but, significantly, is also attributable to the radically different approach taken by the Office for Students, which replaced HEFCE as Principal Regulator in 2018. Possible improvements in regulatory practice and statutory reform are offered.

Mary Synge, Regulation of universities as charities: one step forward, two steps back, Legal Studies, volume 41, issue 2, June 2021, pp 214-233,

First posted 2021-06-03 10:00:55

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