A ROMAN Catholic college that admits pupils from all over the world has announced major changes to the way it is governed.

Stonyhurst College, Hurst Green, near Clitheroe, is planning to establish a self-governing charity to own and manage the future development of the school.

The decision has been reached after lengthy discussions between Roman Catholic religious order the Jesuit foundation - the Society of Jesus - and the Stonyhurst board of governors.

The Jesuit church has been involved in the running of the college for more than 400 years and will continue to have a say in the way it is run. Now though, instead of the college being run as a charitable arm of the Society of Jesus, it will be governed by a separate charitable trust which give the college greater financial flexibility.

The charity is expected to come into operation within the next 12 months, once it has been approved by the Society of Jesus' offices in Rome.

A college spokesman said: "The announcement about governance at Stonyhurst is an important and exciting development in the way our schools will be governed and led in the future. Above all, the governors will work to safeguard and develop the Jesuit ethos of the school.

"The Society of Jesus will continue its 400 year involvement with Stonyhurst, one of the oldest Jesuit Colleges in the world. There will, for instance, be the same strong presence on the board of governors.

"The main benefit of the new arrangements will be that the governors will have more financial autonomy to develop our schools to meet the needs of the 21st Century. That financial independence will be underpinned by an endowment from the Society of Jesus which will support us in staying true to the ideals that have guided us down the years."