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What’s The Difference Between University, University College, and College?

A broad similarity between University, University College and College is that all refer to institutes offering post secondary education. In some settings the term college and university may also be used interchangeably for the differences between the two are not well marked. Let us try and look at some general differences between the three for a better understanding of what to expect.

University
A university is an institution of higher education which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects and provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education. They are also research-focused.

University College
In some countries the term “university college” is used to refer to institutions that provide higher education but do not have full or independent university status. They prepare students to sit as external candidates at other universities or have the authority to run courses that lead to the degrees of those universities. It may also be an independent higher education institution with the power to award degrees, but does not have university status, although it is usually working towards it. The precise usage varies from country to country.

For example, in the United Kingdom, the term “university college” refers to an institution that typically teaches degree programmes within a specialist field, and may not carry out research.

College
Usage of the word “college” varies in English-speaking nations. A college may be a degree-awarding higher educational institution, a part of a university, or an institution offering vocational education.

In the United States generally “college” and “university” are used interchangeably.

In Australia a college may be an institution of tertiary education that is smaller than a university, run independently or as part of a university. Following a reform in the 1980s many of the formerly independent colleges now belong to a larger universities. Most technical and further education institutions (TAFEs), which offer certificate and diploma vocational courses, are styled “TAFE colleges” or “Colleges of TAFE”.

In Canada, the term “college” usually refers to a technical, applied arts, applied science school or community college. These are post-secondary institutions granting certificates, diplomas, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degrees.

Written by: Peh Xin Ying

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