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College (Latin collegium) is a term most often used today to denote an educational institution. More broadly, it can be the name of any group of colleagues (see for example electoral college, College of Arms). Originally it meant a group of people living together under a common set of rules (con-, "together" + leg-, "law"); indeed, some colleges call their members "fellows". The precise usage of the term varies among English-speaking countries.
 United Kingdom
British usage of the word "college" remains the loosest, encompassing a range of institutions:
- colleges of further education and adult education.
- "sixth form colleges", where students (ages 16-18) finish their secondary education, and some specialist schools
- the constituent parts of collegiate universities, especially referring to the independent colleges of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham.
- university colleges — independent higher education institutions that have been granted degree-awarding powers but not university status.
- certain public schools for children such as Eton and Winchester<ref name="Eaton">Eton College website using school as the educational institute but College as the name</ref>
- professional associations such as the Royal College of Organists, the Royal College of Surgeons and other various Royal Colleges.
- the College of Justice or Court of Session of Scotland
In general use, a "college" refers to: institutions between secondary school and university, colleges of further education and adult education. Many types of institutions have "college" in its name but are not "colleges" in the general use of the word. For example Eton College would not be referred to as a college, but as a school or by its full name <ref name="Eaton">Eton College website using school as the educational institute but College as the name</ref>.
 Universities and colleges
- For notable examples of the college system inside UK universities see Colleges within UK Universities
In relation to universities, the term college normally refers to a part of the university which does not have degree-awarding powers in itself. Degrees are always awarded by universities, colleges are institutions or organisations which prepare students for the degree. In some cases, colleges prepare students for the degree of a university of which the college is a part (eg colleges of the University of London, University of Cambridge, etc) and in some cases colleges are independent institutions which prepare students to sit as external candidates at other universities (eg many higher education colleges prepare students to sit for external examinations of universities). In the past, many of what are now universities with their own degree-awarding powers were colleges which had their degrees awarded by either a federal university (eg Cardiff University) or another university (eg many of the post-1992 universities).
 United States of America
In American English, the word, in contrast to its many and varied British meanings, almost always refers to undergraduate university studies or to a school providing professional or technical training on a (loosely) comparable level. It can therefore refer to both a self-contained institution that has no graduate studies and to the undergraduate school of a full university (i.e. that also has a graduate school). The usual practice in the United States today is to use "university" in the official names of institutions made up of several faculties or "schools" and granting a range of higher degrees while "college" is used in the official names of smaller institutions only granting bachelor's or associate's degrees. (See liberal arts colleges, community college). Nevertheless, several prominent American universities, including Boston College, Dartmouth College, College of Charleston, and College of William and Mary, have retained the term "college" in their names for historical reasons though they offer a wide range of higher degrees. This problem led, in part, to the threatened lawsuit between Yale College Wrexham (equivalent to an American "high school") and Yale University, the latter claiming trademark infringement. As of 2003, there were 2,474 four-year colleges and universities in the United States.<ref name="numberofcolleges">Number of U.S. Colleges and Universities and Degrees Awarded, 2003, infoplease.com</ref>
Usage of the terms varies among the states, each of which operates its own institutions and licenses private ones. In 1996 for example, Georgia changed all of its four-year colleges to universities, and all of its vocational technology schools to technical colleges. (Previously, only the four-year research institutions were called universities.) Other states have changed the names of individual colleges, many having started as a teachers' college or vocational school (such as an A&M — an agricultural and mechanical school) that ended up as a full-fledged state university.
It should be noted, too, that "university" and "college" do not exhaust all possible titles for an American institution of higher education. Other options include "institute", "academy", "union", "conservatory", and "school" as in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Cooper Union, or the Juilliard School.
The term college is also, as in Britain, used for a constituent semi-autonomous part of a larger university but generally organized on academic rather than residential lines. For example, at many institutions, the undergraduate portion of the university can be briefly referred to as the college (such as The College at Brown, Harvard College at Harvard, or Columbia College at Columbia) while at others each of the faculties may be called a "college" (the "college of engineering", the "college of nursing", and so forth). There exist other variants for historical reasons; for example, Duke University, which was called Trinity College until the 1920s, still calls its main undergraduate subdivision Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. Some American universities, such as Princeton, Rice, and Yale do have residential colleges along the lines of Oxford or Cambridge, but the name was clearly adopted in homage to the British system. Unlike the Oxbridge colleges, these residential colleges are not autonomous legal entities nor are they typically much involved in education itself, being primarily concerned with room, board, and social life. At the University of California, San Diego, however, each of the six residential colleges does teach its own core writing courses and has its own distinctive set of graduation requirements.
 The origin of the U.S. usage
The founders of the first institutions of higher education in the United States were graduates of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. The small institutions they founded would not have seemed to them like universities — they were tiny and did not offer the higher degrees in medicine and theology. Furthermore, they were not composed of several small colleges. Instead, the new institutions felt like the Oxbridge colleges they were used to — small communities, housing and feeding their students, with instruction from residential tutors (as in the United Kingdom, described above). When the first students came to be graduated, these "colleges" assumed the right to confer degrees upon them, usually with authority -- for example, the College of William and Mary has a Royal Charter from the English monarchy allowing it to confer degrees while Dartmouth College has a charter permitting it to award degrees "as are usually granted in either of the universities, or any other college in our realm of Great Britain."
Contrast this with Europe, where only universities could grant degrees. The leaders of Harvard College (which granted America's first degrees in 1642) might have thought of their college as the first of many residential colleges which would grow up into a New Cambridge university. However, over time, few new colleges were founded there, and Harvard grew and added higher faculties. Eventually, it changed its title to university, but the term "college" had stuck and "colleges" had sprung up all over the United States.
 British and American usage contrasted
The aspect of the American use of the word "college" that seems the most confusing to British people is that it refers to both institutions using "college" in their name and to the undergraduate portions of institutions using "university" in their names. This use is not colloquial, and it is in fact not even confusing as long as one realizes that the same level of education (undergraduate) is always meant. In British usage, in contrast, "college" can refer to different levels of education and different kinds of institutions (see United Kingdom section above), as a result of which even many British people are confused by the many different British uses of the word.
Where a British person would say "go to university", Americans instead say "go to college", even when referring to an institution officially called a "university", as long as they are not referring to graduate or first-professional studies in the same school. In Britain, aside from usage in reference to collegiate universities as detailed above, to attend "college" would usually be accepted as meaning one attends a technical college or a specific sixth form institution. (Most state schools and independent school in Britain have sixth forms, but there are a number of sixth form specific institutions).
However, in the U.S., students at Universities still refer to them as "college", but only when referring to their undergraduate studies and students. (Otherwise, the term "graduate school" is always used except in reference to a first-professional school, such as "law school" or "medical school".) The institution that administers many standardized admissions tests in the U.S. is known as the College Board because it originally only provided tests for undergraduate admissions. So, to Americans, the word "college" refers to an undergraduate education, while "university" is a much less common catch-all term for both undergraduate and graduate studies.
 The rest of the English-speaking world
Influenced by their origins in the British Empire, by contact with and sometimes imitation of U.S. academia, and even by modern American pop culture, the rest of the English-speaking world seems to have adopted a mix of the U.S. and British practices.
In Australia, the term "college" can refer to 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 university. Many private high schools that provide secondary education are called "colleges" in Australia. The term can also be used to refer to residence halls, or dormitories, as in the United Kingdom, but compared to the UK their tutorial programs are relatively small-scale and they do no actual teaching towards academic degrees, with the exception of one or two that host theological colleges. In the state of Victoria, most public schools providing secondary education are known as secondary colleges.
Additionally, in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, "college" refers to the final two years of high school (years eleven and twelve), and the institutions which provide this. In this context, "college" is a system independent of the other years of high school. (Here, the expression is a shorter version of matriculation college.) All college courses in the ACT are sanctioned by the Board of Senior Secondary Studies, or BSSS.
In Canada, the term "college" usually refers to a community college or a technical, applied arts, or applied science school. These are post-secondary diploma-granting institutions, but they are not universities and typically do not grant degrees, except in British Columbia where some have university status. In Quebec, it can refer in particular to CEGEP (Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel, "college of general and professional education"), a form of post-secondary education specific to the Quebec education system that is required in order to continue onto university, or to learn a trade. In Ontario there are also institutions which are designated university college as they only grant under-graduate degrees. This is to differentiate between universities which have both under-graduate and graduate programs and those that do not. There are very few university colleges in Ontario as most universities have graduate programs.
The Royal Military College of Canada, a full-fledged degree-granting university, does not follow the naming convention used by the rest of the country.
The term "college" also applies to distinct entities within a university (usually referred to as "federated colleges" or "affiliated colleges"), akin to the residential colleges in the United Kingdom. These colleges act independently, but in affiliation or federation with the university that actually grants the degrees. For example, Trinity College was once an independent institution, but later became federated with the University of Toronto, and is now one of its residential colleges. Occasionally, "college" refers to a subject specific faculty within a university that, while distinct, are neither federated nor affiliated—College of Education, College of Medicine, College of Dentistry, among others.
There are also universities referred to as art colleges, empowered to grant academic degrees of BFA, Bdes, MFA, Mdes and sometimes collaborative PhD degrees. Some of them have "university" in their name (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University) and others do not (Ontario College of Art & Design and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design).
It should be noted that, unlike in the United States, there is a strong distinction between "college" and "university" in Canada. In conversation, one specifically would say either "I'm going to university" (i.e., studying for a three- or four-year degree at a university) or "I'm going to college" (suggesting a technical or career college). Due to this distinction, the cultural phenomenon known as college radio in the United States is more properly called "campus radio" in Canada.
In a number of Canadian cities, many government-run secondary schools are called “collegiate institutes” (C.I.), a complicated form of the word “college” which avoids the usual “post-secondary” connotation. This is because these secondary schools have traditionally focused on academic, rather than vocational, subjects and ability levels (for example, collegiates offered Latin while vocational schools offered technical courses). Some private secondary schools in Toronto choose to use the word “college” in their names nevertheless. Some secondary schools elsewhere in the country, particularly ones within the separate school system, may also use the word "college" or "collegiate" in their names.
In the Republic of Ireland, the term "college" is usually limited to an institution of tertiary education, but the term is quite generic within this field. University students often say they attend "college" rather than "university", with the term college being more popular in wider society. This is possibly due to the fact that, until 1989, no university provided teaching or research directly. Instead, these were offered by a constituent college of the university, in the case of the National University of Ireland and University of Dublin — or at least in strict legal terms. A limited number of secondary education institutions use the word college to describe or name themselves, but this tends to be the exception.
The state's only ancient university, the University of Dublin, is really English in its origins and, until recently, its outlook. Created during the reign of Elizabeth I, it is modeled on the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. However, only one constituent college was ever founded, hence the curious position of Trinity College, Dublin today. For a time, degrees in Dublin Institute of Technology were also conferred by the university. However, that institution now has its own degree awarding powers and is considering applying for full university status.
Among more modern foundations, the National University of Ireland, founded in 1908, consisted of constituent colleges and recognised colleges until 1997. The former are now referred to as constituent universities — institutions that are essentially universities in their own right. The National University can trace its existence back to 1850 and the creation of the Queen's University of Ireland and the creation of the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854. From 1880, the degree awarding roles of these two universities was taken over by the Royal University of Ireland, which remained until the creation of the National University in 1908 and the Queen's University of Belfast.
The state's two new universities Dublin City University and University of Limerick were initially National Institute for Higher Education institutions. These institutions offered university level academic degrees and research from the start of their existence and were awarded university status in 1989 in recognition of this. These two universities now follow the general trend of universities having associated colleges offering their degrees.
Third level technical education in the state has been carried out in the Regional Technical College network since 1970. These institutions are now referred to as Institutes of Technology, and some have delegated authority that entitles them to give degrees and diplomas in their own name. Initially these institutions offered only National Certificate and National Diploma courses. Now they also offer academic degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Other types of college include Colleges of Education. These are specialist institutions, often linked to a university, which provide both undergraduate and postgraduate academic degrees for people who want to train as teachers.
 Hong Kong
- See also: Education in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, the term "college" has a range of meanings, as in the British case. In the first case it can refer to a secondary school. It is also used by tertiary institutions as either part of their names, such as Shue Yan College; to refer to a constituent part of the university, such as the colleges in the collegiate Chinese University of Hong Kong; or to a residence hall of a university, such as St. John's College, University of Hong Kong.
- See also: Universities and colleges in India, Indian Institute of Management, and Indian Statistical Institute
The term university is more common than college in India. Generally, colleges are located in different parts of a state and all of them are affiliated to a regional university. The colleges offer programmes under that university. Examinations are conducted by the university at the same time for all colleges under its affiliation. There are several hundred universities and each university has affiliated colleges.
The first liberal arts and sciences college in India was the Presidency College, Kolkata (estd. 1817) (initially known as Hindu College). The first Missionary institution to impart Western style education in India was the Scottish Church College, Calcutta (estd. 1830). The first modern university in India was the University of Calcutta (estd. January 1857). The first research institution for the study of the social sciences and ushering the spirit of Oriental research was the Asiatic Society, (estd. 1784). The first college for the study of Christian theology and ecumenical enquiry has been the Serampore College (estd. 1818).
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are specialized institutions that award their own degrees. They are premier institutes in India. There are only seven of them at present.
Of late the government has been establishing Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) as specialized centres of excellence in the rapidly emerging field of Information Technology. They have been setup to educate professionals for the booming technology oriented market.
The term "college" in Singapore is generally only used for pre-university educational institutions called "Junior Colleges", which provide the final two years of secondary education (equivalent to sixth form in English terms or grades 11-12 in the American system). Since 1 January 2005, the term also refers to the three campuses of the Institute of Technical Education with the introduction of the "collegiate system", in which the three institutions are called ITE College East, ITE College Central, and ITE College West respectively.
The term "university" is used to describe higher-education institutions offering locally-conferred degrees. Institutions offering diplomas are called "polytechnics", while other institutions are often referred to as "institutes" and so forth.
 New Zealand
In New Zealand the word "college" normally refers to a secondary school for ages 13 to 17. In contrast, most older schools of the same type are "high schools". Also, single-sex schools are more likely to be "Someplace Boys/Girls High School", but there are also very many coeducational "high schools". The difference between "high schools" and "colleges" is only one of terminology. There does seem to be a geographical difference in terminology: "colleges" most frequently appear in the North Island, whereas "high schools" are more common in the South Island.
The constituent colleges of the former University of New Zealand (such as Canterbury University College) have become independent universities. Some halls of residence associated with New Zealand universities retain the name of "college", particularly at the University of Otago (which although brought under the umbrella of the University of New Zealand, already possessed university status and degree awarding powers). The institutions formerly known as "Teacher-training colleges" now style themselves "College of education".
Some universities, such as the University of Canterbury, have divided their University into constituent administrative "Colleges" - the College of Arts containing departments that teach Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science containing Science departments, and so on. This is largely modelled on the Cambridge model, discussed above.
Like the United Kingdom some professional bodies in New Zealand style themselves as "colleges", for example, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the R.A.C. of Physicians etc.
 South Africa
Similar to New Zealand, in South Africa the word "college" normally refers to a secondary school. Nevertheless, most secondary schools are called "Someplace High (School)". The word "college" in South Africa generally implies that the school is private. In many cases the high school is exclusive and follows the English public school model. Thus no less than six of South Africa's Elite Seven high schools call themselves "college" and fit this description. A typical example of this category would be St John's College.
Another category of private high schools also use the "college" term. However, these schools do not follow the British public school model, but rather are more informal in character and specialize in improving children's marks through intensive focus on examination needs. These "colleges" are thus often nick-named "cram-colleges"
Although the term "college" is hardly used in any context at any university in South Africa, some non-university tertiary institutions call themselves colleges. These include teacher training colleges, business colleges and wildlife management colleges to name a few.
 The non-English-speaking world
Some languages beyond English use words similar to "college". (French, for example, has the Collège de France.) However, in other languages, confusion is most likely to arise when an American is reading something translated by someone using British conventions, or vice versa.
- In Belgium, the term college is used for institutes of secondary education, more in particular for Catholic schools (official secondary schools are called atheneum). For tertiary education, the difference is made between hogeschool (which literally means high school) and university. With the current reform of higher education under the Bologna process, the hogeschool institutions now offer professional bachelor's degrees (three years study in one cycle) as well as professional master's degrees (one year study in addition to the professional bachelor's degree). Universities offer academic bachelor's degrees (three years study in one cycle) and academic master's degrees (one or two years study in addition to the academic bachelor's degree). Recent government measures have brought the hogeschool institutions to associate with an university in order to academize their curriculum and to get involved in applied research projects.
- In the People's Republic of China, Japan, South Korea and other East Asian states, colleges and universities are collectively named 大學 or in simplified writing 大学, which is a word originally introduced by Confucius with his influential book of the same name. The original word and subsequently the book's title is most frequently translated to "The Great Learning". Today's pronunciation of this word is country- and sometimes region- specific and includes daxue (Chinese) and daigaku (Japanese). In Japan, daigaku is usually considered distinct from senmon gakkou (専門学校), which is more of a post-secondary vocational school. In the People's Republic of China, the college students are selected through the annual National College Entrance Examination. The meaning of 大學 is clear, but in the case of smaller institutions, the term 學院 ("xueyuan" in Chinese) is often used and, like "college" in English, can refer to either an institution of tertiary or secondary education.
- In Denmark the term kollegium means dormitory. A University is called a Universitet. Some institutes of higher education call themselves højskole which literally means "high school" e.g. Handelshøjskolen i København (Copenhagen Business School) .
- In Finland the term college has no single counterpart. A general university is called yliopisto (in Swedish, universitet). A university on a specific field of study is korkeakoulu (literally, high school). The Swedish term is högskola. In translation they use "university", "school", or "academy". One of them even uses college: Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulu is in English "The National Defence College". An institute of the more practically oriented branch of tertiary education is ammattikorkeakoulu, in Swedish yrkeshögskola. Some of them translate their name as "polytechnic", some as "university of applied science".
- In France, collège generally refers to a middle school or junior high school. However, it can also be used in a manner more similar to that of English, such as in the term electoral college or the Collège de France. The latter use, though, is not as common.
- In Germany a Hochschule or Universität is an institute of tertiary education. "College" is a more proper term to use than a direct translation: Hochschule literally means "high school". German secondary education often takes place in an institution called in German an Oberschule, with its specific forms Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium, and in some states also Gesamtschule, together with vocational secondary education in Berufsschule (in North Rhine-Westphalia called Berufskolleg). The term Kolleg (literally: college) is used in some states for institutions of adult education where graduates of a Berufsschule can graduate with an Abitur. A Graduiertenkolleg is a German Graduate school.
- In Greece the term college is mainly used to refer to private secondary education institutions (high schools and junior high schools), while Πανεπιστήμιο (University) is the term utilized for Higher Education.
- In Hungary the term kollégium refers to a dormitory that may or may not be independent from an educational institution; it can also refer to a university's autonomous student organisation, dedicated to the advanced study of a certain science, topic etc, for example the College for Social Theory.
- In Indonesia the term kolese refers to a school that be organized by Jesuits. For example, Kolese Kanisius, Jakarta.
- In Italy the term collegio, in school contest, refers to a particular school (with elite, alternative or stricter education; a collegio offered by the State to the children of some of its civil employee, or a collegio related to a military education, is more commonly called convitto), with possibility of passing here the night or most of the day.
- In the Netherlands the term college is used for institutes of secondary education. The term college is also used for classes or lectures at university.
- In Norway the term "university college" is used as an official English translation for høgskole, a term used for independent educational institutions providing tertiary, but not quaternary education. Similarly to the situation in Germany and Sweden, the Norwegian term høgskole literally means "high school".
- In Portugal the term college (colégio) is mainly used to refer to private secondary education institutions, while Universidade (University), Instituto or Escola Superior are the terms generally used for several kind of higher education institutions.
- In Spain and the other Spanish speaking countries the term colegio refers to either to institutes of primary and secondary education or some homogenous grouping of people who refer to themselves as a colegio.
- In Sweden the term "university college" is used as an official English translation for högskola, a term used for independent educational institutions providing tertiary, but not quaternary education. Similarly to the situation in Germany, the Swedish term högskola literally means "high school". The same term is also used for a number of institutions which function as specialized universities rather than as university colleges, providing quaternary education and conducting research (such as Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, the Royal Institute of Technology).
- In some cantons of the French speaking part of Switzerland and also on the border to the Swiss German speaking part (i.e. in Fribourg) the French term “Collège” (German: Kollegium) is used for the Gymnasium (10th to 13th grade) which lends to the matura. It is also used as a name for the physical building in which obligatory education takes place (e.g., Le collège des coteaux).
 See also
- Career college
- Community college
- Junior college
- Residential college
- Sixth form college
- University college
- List of colleges and universities
- Electoral college
- College of Cardinals
- House system
- Colleges within UK Universities
- Kenyan Colleges and Universities
 College Searches
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- TheTopColleges - Essential Info
- College Toolkit
- Princeton Review
- College Board
- Kenyan Colleges and Universities
- A College For Me
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