Factsheet: Schools, universities and other education providers and the ACNC

Attention - Important information!The ACNC registers organisations as charities. Schools and universities that meet the legal meaning of charity and our requirements for registration can register as charities with the ACNC.

Can government schools and education providers register with the ACNC?

Organisations that are run by the government are generally not considered to be charitable. Because they are not charities, government schools and institutions generally cannot register with the ACNC.  In particular, government schools would likely fall within the definition of ‘government entity’ in the Charities Act 2013 (Cth), and therefore, be excluded from the definition of ‘charity’.  

Can non-government schools, universities and other education providers register with the ACNC?

Other education providers may meet the ACNC's registration requirements. Examples of education providers that can register include:

  • non-government schools
  • universities
  • schools operated by religious organisations
  • schools for specific training (such as language schools), and
  • kindergartens and other pre-schools.

When applying to register, education providers may wish to select purpose of 'advancing education' as their charitable purpose and 'educational activities' as one of their charitable activities. Education providers may also select other recognised charitable purposes they have, or other charitable activities they engage in, such as community welfare activities or scholarly research.

What obligations do registered charities have to the ACNC?

Education providers registered with the ACNC have ongoing obligations under the ACNC Act. These include to:

  • notify us of certain changes
  • keep records
  • report to us each year
  • comply with governance standards and external conduct standards, where applicable.

What if my school, university or other education provider already has to report to another government agency?

The ACNC is working to reduce this regulatory burden for charities. We have entered into a number of agreements with agencies that provide for cooperation and exchange of information, such as with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA).

Your school may be required by Australian law to prepare financial reports on a calendar year basis (1 January to 31 December) instead of the ACNC Act's usual reporting period of 1 July to 30 June. We call this a 'different reporting period' or a substituted accounting period.

The ACNC will approve this calendar year as a different reporting period if your school notifies the ACNC that the law requires reporting on this basis. You can apply for a different reporting period through the Charity Portal, and including this legal requirement as the reason for your request.

Read more about transitional reporting arrangements and our work to reduce red tape.

What if my non-government school reports to the Department of Education and Training?

For the 2014 and 2015 reporting periods, non-government schools do not have to provide financial information to us directly. Read more about the non-government schools transitional reporting arrangements.

What will happen to my school building fund – will it be registered with the ACNC?

If your school building fund was recognised (endorsed) as a charity by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to receive charity tax concessions (such as goods and services tax concessions) before 3 December 2012, it will have automatically have been registered with the ACNC. Check the ACNC Register to see if your school building fund is registered.

If your school building fund is not registered and has deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, it may need to register with the ACNC so it can continue to receive tax deductible donations. Your fund needs to register with the ACNC if it is an ‘ACNC type of entity’.

Attention - Important information!The deadline to register with us (if needed) has now expired. If your school building fund has DGR status and is not a registered charity, contact the ATO to confirm whether you need to register.

School building funds for government schools do not need to be registered with the ACNC to apply to the ATO for DGR.

Read the ATO guidance on:

What if I want to set up a school building fund?

School building funds that meet the legal meaning of charity and our requirements for registration can register as charities with the ACNC. Charities must be registered with the ACNC to access charity tax concessions. If your school building fund wants to apply for DGR status, it will need to be registered with the ACNC if it is an ‘ACNC type of entity’. Read the ATO’s guidance above for more information.

Contact the ACNC

Phone: 13 ACNC (13 22 62)
Email: advice@acnc.gov.au
Mail: Advice Services, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, GPO Box 5108, Melbourne VIC 3001
Fax: 1300 232 569


 

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