'To University' vs. 'To the University'

British students go "to university" (not "to the university") to obtain a higher education degree.

British students go "to university" (not "to the university") to obtain a higher education degree.

My son wants to go to university.

My son wants to go to the university.

When talking about a specific place that offers full undergraduate and graduate programs, we need to use a determiner (the, a, this, etc.) in front of the noun.

Can you tell me where is the university, please?

In the US, however, nobody talks about going to university. After high school, American students go to college.

You should go to college because with more education comes the potential for a better job.

1. 'To University' vs. 'To the University' in British English

In Great Britain, Canada, and Australia, the word university is used more often than college.

A majority of young people go to university near their home.

When thinking of “university” as a generic term for higher education, we do not add an article before the noun.

My son wants to study economics at university.

When referring to a specific place that offers full undergraduate and graduate programs, we need to use a determiner (a, the, its, etc.).

I did my degree at the University of Cambridge.

This is a small town, but the university is prestigious.

2. University vs. College in American English

American speakers never talk about going to university. Instead, they use the expression "going to college". After high school, you go to college, even if the college you’re attending calls itself a university.

She had to borrow money to go to college.

My father never went to college, but he still has a very good job.

In the US, the word “university” implies a high-level institution that provides facilities for teaching and research.

Our son went to the University of Florida.

Note that in the example above we are talking about a specific university or institution. To express the general idea that our son obtained a higher education degree, use the word “college”.

Our son went to college.

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