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University college

University college is a a term used in a number of countries to denote institutions that provide tertiary education but do not have full or independent university status. Precise usage varies between countries.

Table of contents
1 New Zealand
2 Sweden
3 United Kingdom
4 See also

New Zealand

Nearly all New Zealand universities were originally described as University colleges, and were constituent parts of a federal body, the University of New Zealand. All are now fully independent: thus the former Canterbury University College is now the University of Canterbury.


In Sweden, University College is the recognised translation into English of the Swedish term högskola, which denotes an independent institution that provides tertiary but not quaternary education. In contrast to universities they do not themselves conduct research or generally grant degrees above Bachelor. They can how ever participate in research projects which are under the supervisory authority of a university. Under special dispensation they may also award a limited number of Master's degrees.

As the direct translation of högskola, literally means "high school", university college is a more proper terminology. However, as many of the university colleges aspire to full university status, several have chosen to omit the word college when translating their names to English. This can make it difficult to distinguish the Swedish universities proper from the university colleges.

Note: The term used for secondary education in Sweden is gymnasium. The term högskola is also used by a number of specialized universities, especially technical universities, which provide both tertiary and quaternary education, as well as conduct research. These are not university colleges.

United Kingdom

In the UK, the term University College is used to denote an institution that teaches degree programmes, and may carry out research, but is not recognised as a university. Some University Colleges have independent degree awarding powers, while others teach degrees that are validated by a university. Like the title "University", the title "University College" is legally protected, and to use it requires government approval. However, it is generally speaking seen as carrying less prestige than "University", and many University Colleges are currently (2004) seeking full university status.

Many well established British universities started out as University Colleges, teaching external degrees of the University of London. Examples include the University of Nottingham (which was University College Nottingham at the time when characters in the novels of D. H. Lawrence, like Lawrence himself, attended it), and the University of Exeter, which until 1955 was the University College of the South West of England. This was the recognised route for establishing new universities in the UK during the first half of the twentieth century.

A related but slightly different use of the term used to exist in the federal University of Wales; its constituent colleges took titles such as "University College Cardiff". These colleges were to all intents and purposes independent universities (the federal university's powers are largely restricted to the formal awarding of degrees), and with the advent of a number of newer and less well established institutions in the 1990s using the title "University College", several have changed their names to titles such as "Cardiff University".

Finally, there are several specific UK institutions named "University College", including but not limited to:

See also