Collegiate university

A collegiate university (also federal university or affiliating university) is a university in which governing authority and functions are divided between a central administration and a number of constituent colleges. Often, the division of powers in a collegiate university is realized in the form of a federation, analogous to the geopolitical arrangement in which a country comprises member regions (provinces, states, etc.) and a central federal government.

A collegiate university differs from a centralized university in that its colleges are not just halls of residence; rather, they have a substantial amount of responsibility and autonomy in the running of the university. The actual level of self-governance exercised by the colleges varies greatly among institutions, ranging from nearly autonomous colleges to dependent colleges that are integrated with the central administration itself. Often, but not always, colleges within collegiate universities have their own specific students' unions.

Loosely federated colleges

The two founding colleges of the federal University of London

Some colleges are part of loose federations that allow them to exercise nearly complete self-governance. In the United Kingdom, the colleges of the University of London perform almost all the duties of a university with the exception of the awarding of degrees (although some of the larger colleges of the University of London, such as University College London, King's College London and the London School of Economics, have recently begun to award their own degrees). In the United States, many state university systems consist of campuses that are almost independent, spread out across different parts of the state. Examples of such institutions include the University of California, the State University of New York, the University of Michigan, the University of Texas System, and the University System of Maryland. The University of the Philippines started as one campus but is now a similar system of "constituent universities". The four constituent universities of the National University of Ireland are, for all essential purposes, independent universities.

Over time, loosely federated schools may formally end their relations with the parent university to become degree-awarding universities. Examples include Cardiff University (formerly named the University of Wales, Cardiff) and Imperial College London. The University of Dundee and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne were colleges of the University of St Andrews and the University of Durham, respectively, before they became independent. A number of autonomous universities in South Africa were formerly colleges of the University of South Africa.