University vs. College

Difference Between University and College Among higher education institutions, university and college are two different terms which mostly…

Difference Between University and College

Among higher education institutions, university and college are two different terms which mostly depend on their location. According to Macmillan Dictionary –

“An educational institution where students study to earn their degrees and can do their academic research is called university.”

As per Wikipedia, the word university comes from Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium which can be roughly translated into ‘the community of scholars and teachers. Original Latin word symbolizes a higher degree-granting education institution of learning in Western Europe which later, spread worldwide to grant undergraduate and postgraduate academic degrees.

On the other hand, as per Macmillan Dictionary, an educational institute which gives degrees to students is called ‘College’ in the U.S. Even a school can give degrees if it is large enough to do so whereas in the UK, educational institutes below the level of University can only give degrees related to vocational courses.

Worldwide, college has different meaning.  It can be an institution within a university or a place where vocational or tertiary educational degrees are awarded.

In United States, university is strictly a place where research is done and doctorate is granted to students. In the United States and Ireland, both the terms- university an like d colleges don’t differ much whereas in commonwealth and other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada- college needs to be affiliated to universities to provide degrees. Colleges are part of study institutions and they are not legally capable of awarding degrees of their own.  College is also referred to independent institution wherein external candidates of non-affiliated university can appear for exams and pursue courses. They sometimes, are also referred to as University Colleges.

In the United Kingdom, colleges are also deemed as independent education institutes which can award degrees without any university affiliation and status whereas in Canada, colleges can award certificates or diplomas except degrees.  In Australia, universities have colleges in the guise of faculties which award vocational qualifications or tertiary education degrees termed as technical colleges or TAFE.

So, it is understood that college are inherent part of a university. A university can be divided into faculties or colleges depending upon the courses or degrees they offer. Therefore, university can be termed as unified colleges and works as autonomous degree awarding institution.


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