Moi   Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:13 pm GMT

What's the difference between "college" and "university"? Is it possible to use them in the same contexts or is "university" a more specialized term?
Thanks in advance.
Rene   Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:04 pm GMT
Same thing, no differences
sssss   Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:26 pm GMT
They are the same thing in America. However here in Australia, the term "college" refers to an institution of tertiary education which is smaller than a university. For me, when someone says college, I would think technical college like TAFE.
Kirk   Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:37 pm GMT
Right. In the US, the words "college" and "university" are largely synonyms, especially in common speech. In fact, in US English it would be odd to say "where do you go to university?" or "when I was in university..." Instead, we use the word "college" there even tho the facility in question is very likely technically a university. For a personal example, I went to college at University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Another note on educational terms. In US English "school" refers to any generic kind of educational facility, not just one for primary or secondary education (as the word tends to imply in other places on the globe). So in the US it's perfectly acceptable to ask someone where they went to school to get their PhD. I could say that I went to school at UCSD until I graduated.

The US educational terms for different levels:

primary = elementary school
pre-secondary = middle school or junior high (school)
secondary = high school
tertiary (non-trade/technical) = college/university

If we're referring to a trade school or technical college we would just use those terms or the specific kind of college someone went to/is going to.
Pabz   Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:16 pm GMT
I think the technical difference is that a university contains multiple colleges. For example, Boston University has a College of Liberal Arts, a College of Fine Arts, a School of Management, etc.

But yes, in conversation, the two words are interchangeable in the US.