Posted by: Gillian | September 22, 2008

College – a useless term

The word ‘college’ is useless in terms of sorting out accreditation.  Is it one of those, often vast, places that does both academic and vocational courses for 16-18 year olds?  Or a renamed academic sixth form (16-18 year olds, again)?  Or a straightforward school anywhere in the age range of what the US calls K-12 (nursery school upwards)?  Or is it a semi-autonomous, self-governing unit within a federated University but with its own web presence  (e.g. Goldsmiths’, University of London or All Souls College, University of Oxford)?

In France, of course, a collège (with accent) is years 6 to 3 or about ages 11-15.

In the US, ‘College’ can mean a huge university with excellent accreditation – but it just does not have enough doctoral research program(me)s to be called a University (e.g. Excelsior College, NY).

This limitation-by-scope of the use of the word ‘university’ also exists in the UK but, post-1992, has become less of an issue even though it has left some anomalies and confusions.  What, for example, is a potential student with no previous links to the place nor to the area to make of Harper Adams University College with its excellent teaching record and, since 1998, university status?

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