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.”