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This has been bugging me for years, but I haven't been able to find a good enough answer anywhere.

A Scottish friend told me that the difference between university and college is that you go to uni to get a degree in something (English, Psychology) and you go to college to study for a profession, something... vocational, I guess, like a hairdresser or a plumber. So college is 'lower' than 'university'. Now, that kills me. Why?

Because Americans use the word 'college' to define the place where they study post-high school. At least to my knowledge (which is limited).

As far as I know, university in normal world English would then be a number of... buildings, or a campus with colleges.

Then what the heck is a faculty? On a Croatian site of University of Osijek (a city) translated into English, this is how it's put: University is the whole city's ... thing... of higher education. A faculty would then be a separate building, that focuses on one thing - Faculty of Engeneering, Faculty of Philosophy, etc.

There is only one word to describe this in my language. You say you go to college no matter what you study after high school.

SO what is:
- college
- uni
- faculty

And how do I go around the obviously different meanings in different parts of the world?

ANYTHING you can possibly tell me will be greatly appreciated.

Marina
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The American view: No real difference between a college and a university - both will grant you a bachelor's degree. A university will often have several colleges that together make up the university. By the way, we also say "in school" to refer to being in university and even grad school. More than one person in chat has been offended when I've said "are you enjoying school?" because they are at university not school.

For us, the "faculty" are the people who teach you. If you're part of the English faculty in the US, you're teaching others English.
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In England/Wales there are Universities, many of which were originally Polytechnic colleges, and Colleges of Further Education. Generally, Colleges of Further Education/Colleges of Technology will provide courses in applied technologies and sciences with Certificates and Diplomas. The University entrance requirements are more highly academic than the entrance requirements for Colleges of Further Education. The courses taken are equally academic and concerned with high level study leading to a recognised degree. Scotland has its own education system.

Even within the universities there are considerable differences in academic quality or level. A university such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, Cambridge or Cardiff will have more rigorous academic courses than a "new" university that used to be a Polytechnic.

The education systems of Britain and the US are still very different in structure and what happens in one country in no way can be compared with the other on the general level. I expect if you ask someone from India or China, you will find another educational structure.

As to faculty, all universities have faculties - it is the term for the academic departments.
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Well, I'm not sure how it work from country to country but as far as I know, coming from an educator's point of view, a college to become a full university needs to have college or schools for medicine and law. So if you only have one of those, you can not be a full-pledged university. So, we could say that a university is an evolution of a college due to expansion.

As for the differences in a faculty, college, institute and department within university bounds: a faculty can mean an educator/lecturer/instructor/professor, but it is used specifically for schools that are more than 100 years old. For example a law college/department/school within a university that has had existed for 100 years can call themselves "Faculty of Law", or "Faculty of Social Sciences," as another example. Colleges, like "College of Fine Arts", may likely be established less than 100 years and must attain a certain number of students. A college can be raised from a center, school, or institute.

It may sound confusing at first, but technically it has something to do with some criteria and not with what kind of programs they offer.
In the Philippines, we also have this confusion. Like in the University of Santo Tomas, its Engineering higher education sector is also known as "Faculty of Engineering". If the title Faculty is given to institutions around 100 years like what Anonymous up there suggests, then it makes sense coz the Engineering institution in this university is indeed old. However, if you ask me, this is an obvious demonstration of vanity and vulgarity. Common sense dictates that we should simple call anything immediately after High School as "College" because "Faculty" already refers to the family of professors. This is one of the sicknesses of certain academic institutions, they're so title conscious. It is invigorating to watch again the film entitled, "Braveheart", wherein William Wallace lectures the Scottish nobles regarding the true purpose of titles.
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In some countries, Faculty, College and School are synonyms and are used to denominate any university-level-school. In such countries, University is in general a very large institution that in order to be established has to aggregate a minimum number of faculties, colleges or schools under its responsability. For instance, in Brazil, at least 10 university-level-schools (Faculties, Colleges and/or Schools) have to be gathered in order to form a University.
There are also some different level of autonomy between a University and a Faculty, College or School. In Brazil, these last ones have less autonomy and have to ask for authorization from the Education Ministry (a governmental secretary) to create, modify or discontinue any degree program.
In Brazil there is also another type of institution called University Center that has an intermediate level of autonomy ranked between a university's one and a faculty/college/school's one.
As far as i know, the University of Santo Tomas uses the term "Faculty" (Faculty of Arts and Letters, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Pharmacy and so on) to acknowledge their existence as the first to be established in the whole country. =) Based on data, UST is the first school to offer Engineering curriculum here in the Philippines.

Late curriculum being offered like College of Education and College of Science had been offered to other school first before being integrated into the system of UST. =)
Astraea1709A Scottish friend told me that the difference between university and college is that you go to uni to get a degree in something (English, Psychology) and you go to college to study for a profession, something... vocational, I guess, like a hairdresser or a plumber. So college is 'lower' than 'university'. Now, that kills me. Why?
In the UK, colleges and universities are not the same thing.

Universities are for studying in order to get a degree in a subject. Colleges are not and are for studying to get other qualifications. Colleges are between secondary school and university levels of educations.

It's worth remembering that in the UK, the American term "high school" is not used for such schools in general. The correct, British term is secondary school.
Astraea1709Because Americans use the word 'college' to define the place where they study post-high school. At least to my knowledge (which is limited).
That's a difference that the American education system has from that of the UK.
Astraea1709And how do I go around the obviously different meanings in different parts of the world?
You can't. You acknowledged that the words have different meanings in different parts of the world.

What you can do is choose which word to use, based on which English you use (American or British) or, which part or parts of the world you are talking about. If you want to talk about post-school levels of education in general, without specifying the education systems in particular parts of the world, you can use some kind of general description like further education or post-school education.
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In the US (British usage in academic contexts is very different from US usage) the word "college" is used generally to mean an institution of higher learning after high school. For example: "I'm going to college now.", means you're attending an institution of higher learning (Harvard, UCLA, etc.). In the US, you would not say: "I'm going to a university now." And institutions like Harvard and UCLA are called "colleges" even though they are "universities" (large institutions of higher learning with undergraduate and graduate divisions, as well as professional schools of medicine, law, etc.).

In the US there are also small institutions of higher learning (Reed, etc.) that offer degrees at the undergraduate level only. These are "colleges" rather than "universities."

Also in the US there are "business colleges," non-academic institutions that offer training is business skills: typing, word processing, spread sheets, medical record handling, etc.

In the US there are also "2-year colleges," institutions of higher learning that offer the first two years of college only (Coffeyville, etc.), or technical training in culinary arts, auto mechanics, etc. These are also called "junior colleges" or "community colleges."

In the US the word "faculty" means the people who teach at a college or university (even at a non-academic business college).
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