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I was wondering about the use of the word 'university' with city names and/or special proper nouns. So, for example, what's the difference between 'Aleppo University' and 'The University of Aleppo'?

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  • I just had someone kindly correct me this usage a few days ago. He told me that I should always use either, for example, I want to study at X University, or I want to study at the University of Y, where X is the name of the name of the university, and Y is usually the name of the place the university resides. You should also check which form is the official one before using it in your writing. Nov 30, 2013 at 22:27

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There is no general rule. Often universities are fussy about which one you use - but that's their own choice.

Especially with the curse of corporate branding - they now send memos around if you use the wrong one in a paper or article

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Grammatically, both usages are fine, but they are proper nouns, so it comes down to the university itself to decide which they want to use — some of them will use one officially, but oftentimes either will be used informally.

E.g. in Ireland, "Dublin University" (more colloquially Trinity College) is never known as "the University of Dublin", which would most likely be confused with another university entirely (UCD).

I presume the same confusion wouldn't happen with Harvard University, so it may get called the "University of Harvard" without any issue (apart from, as mgb says above, the PR department getting annoyed!).

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  • RE: "oftentimes either will be used informally" - I disagree with that. I'd say, "most of the time, the official university name will be the one that will get used, even in informal conversation" (apart from shortened versions of school name, such as Georgetown or Cal Tech).
    – J.R.
    Nov 30, 2013 at 22:40
  • Maybe 'oftentimes' sounds too universal, I guess it depends on the university. I've come across it a good bit, especially when the town/city only has one university. Nov 30, 2013 at 22:50

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