University system in England

Colleges within universities in the United Kingdom

Main articles: Colleges of the University of Cambridge and Colleges of the University of Oxford

The two ancient universities of England, Oxford and Cambridge (collectively termed Oxbridge) both started without colleges (in the late eleventh and early thirteenth century respectively). The first college at Oxford, University College was founded in 1249, and the first at Cambridge, Peterhouse followed in 1284. Over the following centuries, the universities evolved into federations of autonomous colleges, with a small central university body, rather than universities in the common sense. While many of the student affairs functions are housed in the colleges, each college is more than a residence hall, but they are far from being universities. While college life and membership is an important part of the Oxbridge experience and education, only the central university body has degree-awarding power. Historically the colleges were created as a way of ensuring discipline among the notoriously unruly students.

In addition to accommodation, meals, common rooms, libraries, sporting and social facilities for its students, each college admits undergraduate students to the University and, through tutorials or supervisions, contributes to the work of educating them, together with the university's departments/faculties. Graduate students do not receive education from their college. Graduate students at Cambridge and Oxford have to name two college choices on their application, which goes to the department/faculty, and if the university accepts them, it guarantees that the applicant will have a college membership, although not necessarily at the favoured college(s).

The faculties at each university provide lectures and central facilities such as libraries and laboratories, as well as examining for and awarding degrees. Academic staff are commonly employed both by the university (typically as lecturer or professor) and by a college (as fellow or tutor), though some may have only a college or university post. Nearly all colleges cater to students studying a range of subjects.

Since the colleges are all fully independent legal entities within the university, owning their own buildings, employing their own staff, and managing their own endowments, colleges vary widely in wealth, although the richer colleges often provide financial support to the poorer ones. It is entirely possible for some colleges to be in better financial health than the universities of which they are a part. Currently about 2/3 of the £4.3 billion endowment of Cambridge University is in the hands of its colleges, and therefore just 1/3 belongs to the central university.

Typically a student or fellow of an Oxbridge college is said to be "living in college" if their accommodation is inside the college buildings. Most colleges also accommodate students, especially graduate students, in houses or other buildings away from the college site.

Durham University[edit]

The colleges of Durham University hold the same legal status as 'listed bodies' as the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. Durham's colleges are (with two exceptions) owned by the University. They are explicitly defined in the University's statutes, meaning that permission of the Privy Council is needed to create (or abolish) colleges.

At the time of Durham's foundation, Oxford and Cambridge were the only two universities in England, thus Durham, following their example, pursued a collegiate model from the start. Two important innovations were, however, made that were later taken up for the colleges of the plate glass universities (below) and the residential colleges of US universities: the colleges at Durham were (starting with the original University College) owned by the University rather than being independent like Oxbridge colleges; and the teaching was done centrally rather than in the colleges, with the colleges being residential and responsible for student discipline, as had originally been the case at Oxford and Cambridge. The Durham model has been described as "a far better model for people at other institutions to look to, than are the independent colleges of Oxford and Cambridge".

This model was challenged by the admission to the University as teaching colleges of the College of Medicine and Armstrong College in Newcastle (now Newcastle University) in the latter half of the 19th century, and more recently of University College, Stockton (since divided into two non-teaching colleges with teaching organised separately). Hild Bede also surrendered its teacher training duties to the University on becoming a maintained college in 1979. Generally, Durham colleges are not now financially independent, exceptions being Ushaw (a licensed hall) and St Chad's and St John's (both Trinidad colleges). Only St John's now has teaching within the College, in Cranmer Hall, a Church of England Theological College, although St Chad's also trained Anglican priests until the 1970s and Ushaw was a Catholic seminary until 2011.

Although the colleges do not have any teaching duties as part of the university, they do provide meals, libraries, computers, scholarships and recreational facilities for their members. The colleges also play a large role in the pastoral care of students, with each college having a personal tutorial system, JCR, MCR & SCR and either a Master or Principal in charge of the everyday running of the college. The colleges have a role in the admissions of students, although not as large as those at Oxbridge, and normally confined to identifying students that suit the college ethos and atmosphere – departments are responsible for admissions to the University, each college for admissions to that college. Applicants can indicate their college preference through UCAS, as with Oxford and Cambridge.

There are 14 colleges in Durham City (one, Ustinov, postgraduate only): the 5 Bailey colleges located on the historic peninsula, which are usually thought of as being more traditional; the 8 Hill colleges on Elvet Hill, near the Mountjoy site on the south side of Durham; and the College of St Hild and St Bede on the Leazes Road site on the north bank of the Wear. There are a further two colleges at the Queen's Campus in Stockton-on-Tees and Ushaw College a few miles west of Durham, which remains a licensed hall of residence but has not had students since closing as a seminary.

University of Lancaster[edit]

Lancaster University - Alexandra Square

The University of Lancaster is defined by its Royal Charter to be a collegiate university. It has nine colleges, eight of which are for undergraduate students and one – Graduate College – which is for postgraduate students. The undergraduate colleges consist of: Bowland; Cartmel; County; Furness; Fylde; Grizedale; Lonsdale and Pendle, all of which have their own bars with different themes. The undergraduate colleges were founded between 1964 (when the University was established) and 1974, with Graduate College being added in 1992.

Each students is assigned to a specific college upon starting study at Lancaster. Colleges are independent to a student's field of study. Academic staff are also college members. There is a programme of inter-college sports, with the winner being awarded the Carter Shield.


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