No-frills University … er, College

The Toronto Star has a headline today, “No-frills university urged in GTA.”

Here’s the lead of the story:

Louise Brown
Education Reporter
Ontario should consider creating a new university in the GTA – undergraduates only, very little research – to handle the explosion of 25,000 extra students expected in bachelor programs over the next 15 years, urges a report by the province’s advisory body on higher learning.

Couple of funny bits here, if you’re a geek like me. First, “no frills” is an enduringly popular concept in Canada. There’s even a chain of “no frills” stores.


Actually, no-frills stores are all over the place. Products aren’t shelved or merchandised (that’s a frill!). Instead they’re wheeled in on palettes. Shopping bags are a frill. Often they only stock generic products, and do without butchers, bakers, and deli people. And so on.

You’ll notice the logo isn’t even a serif font. Serifs are frills, I guess.

Second funny point is about the concept for the proposed new school: “a new university in the GTA – undergraduates only….”

Well, if you’d been paying attention when you went to school, you might have noticed that there are colleges and universities. Ever wonder why?

According to Webster, a university has facilities for teaching and research, and comprises an undergraduate division that awards bachelor’s degrees and graduate and professional schools that award master’s degrees and doctorates.

A college is typically undergraduate. Only. Like “community college.” So “undergraduate-only university” is not only a tortured phrase, it’s actually the incorrect way to say “college.”

1 thought on “No-frills University … er, College

  1. Yup, you’re right. Problem is, the Ontario system, in its wisdom, has designated as ‘colleges’ those institutions which offer post secondary education but not bachelor’s degrees. Ergo, George Brown, which has a good culinary arts program, is a College. So I guess we need a new term.

    “undergraduate-only university” has a nice bureaucratic ring to it, doncha think?

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