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?

What are your views on this?

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