Traditionally, in all states the term "college" is applied to any private or independent (non-government) primary and, especially, secondary school as distinct from a "state" school. This usage follows traditional British conventions. This is the case whether or not the word "college" appears in the title of the school, e.g. Melbourne Grammar School, Cranbrook School, Sydney and The King's School, Parramatta, as independent schools, are considered colleges.
Further, although it varies between the different states, there has been a recent trend to re-name or create government secondary schools as "colleges".
In the state of Victoria, some state high schools are referred to as secondary colleges. Interestingly, the pre-eminent government secondary school for boys in Melbourne is still named Melbourne High School. In Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, "college" is used in the name of all state high schools built since the late 1990s, and also some older ones. In New South Wales, some high schools, especially multi-campus schools resulting from mergers, are known as "secondary colleges". In Queensland some newer schools which accept primary and high school students are styled state college, but state schools offering only secondary education are called "State High School". In Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, "college" refers to the final two years of high school (years 11 and 12), and the institutions which provide this. In this context, "college" is a system independent of the other years of high school. Here, the expression is a shorter version of matriculation college.
It can refer to an institution of tertiary education that is smaller than a university, run independently or as part of a university. Following a reform in the 1980s many of the formerly independent colleges now belong to a larger university.A notable exception is Campion College which operates in Western Sydney, following the American Liberal Arts College tradition.
Referring to parts of a university, there are residential colleges which provide residence for students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, called university colleges. These colleges often provide additional tutorial assistance, and some host theological study. Many colleges have strong traditions and rituals, so are a combination of dormitory style accommodation and fraternity or sorority culture. Less commonly the term college can refer to a superfaculty organizational unit, as in the ANU Colleges.
Most TAFEs, which offer certificate and diploma vocational courses, are styled "TAFE colleges" or "Colleges of TAFE". Some private institutions offering TAFE certificates, university bridging courses, or theological courses of study (i.e. Bible colleges) style themselves "Institutes" or "Colleges".
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