I am now developing a database having information about universities. The database has a feature to prevent a duplicate name for the university title. I actually wonder of whether it is possible for 2 universities/colleges to have the same name in one country or different countries.

EDIT: I am actually not asking to make this database field the unique identifier for my university entries, but rather for preventing potential duplicate of a university when the the data entry guys use the system. I know I can do a quick check on duplicates but I thought to use this Unique attribute if universities have unique names worldwide.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – eykanal Aug 20 at 17:18
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There are a number of Belgian universities which were one institution formerly, but have been split in two independent institutions during the language conflicts between the French and Dutch speaking citizens in the 1960ies. At the moment they in principle still carry the same name, but in the different languages. Examples are the Free Universities of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Libre de Bruxelles) or the Catholic Universities of Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Université catholique de Louvain).

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    In Leuven/Louvain they did not only split off to start their own university, they founded an entire new town, such that there are now two cities Leuven/Louvain each speaking a different language. In a country where signs are only posted in the language of the location of the sign, that must be incredibly confusing. – gerrit Aug 17 at 8:54
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    @gerrit Well "Louvain" is really called "Louvain-la-Neuve" (New Louvain), so I imagine that on signs they do add the adjective. – Najib Idrissi Aug 17 at 9:00
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    @NajibIdrissi You'd hope so, but if their sign making is as bad as their road maintenance (and I've seen some very troublesome sign collections in Belgium), I wouldn't count on it. – Mast Aug 17 at 13:37

Yes, for example there is a Heidelberg university in Heidelberg, Germany, and one in Tiffin, Ohio, USA.

Note that non-English names are sometimes rendered inconsistently in English, e.g. Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg is sometimes called "University of Heidelberg", sometimes "Heidelberg University" (even on their own website).

Yes, two universities can have the same name.

Many universities are named after the place they're located in.

Many places in North-America, Australia, and New Zealand are named after places in Europe, in particular after places in Great Britain and Ireland.

Although I haven't done a complete survey, the chances would seem pretty high that this leads to a collision somewhere.

As ChristianW, OBu, and user2768 have all correctly pointed out, you should design your database such that a key is designed to be unique, not the university name.

Yes. As another example, many Catholic (or historically Catholic) Universities are named after Saints. For example, there are several "St. Mary's Universities". On a related theme, many colleges have Christianity based names including Trinity College, Christ College, Wesley among others (Thanks to Pedro and Peter for suggesting this).

Also, it seems "Queens" and "Kings" are popular college/university names.

Another thing to be careful about is the change of "Colleges" to "Universities". At least in the US, many "Colleges" changed their accreditation to "Universities". On a related note, you may also want to consider historic names versus present, depending upon the purpose of your database.

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    Also "Trinity", like Dublin and Cambridge, among others. – Pedro Tamaroff Aug 17 at 19:11
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    @PedroTamaroff : Trinity College also exists in Hartford, CT! trincoll.edu – Peter K. Aug 17 at 19:55
  • @PedroTamaroff Thanks for the suggestion. – Richard Erickson Aug 17 at 21:15
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    @PeterK. - and Trinity University in San Antonio, TX just to further confuse things... – Jon Custer Aug 20 at 17:34
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    @JonCuster It's ... disappointing that there are more than three of them. ;-) – Peter K. Aug 20 at 18:21

As far as I can tell, the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul is entirely unrelated to the University of St. Thomas in Houston and they share a name.

There is a Metropolitan State University in Denver CO and another one in Saint Paul MN. They are completely separate. So, yes, two universities can have the same name. As others have recommended, you should use a surrogate primary key in your database design. That is usually a good idea anyway since you don’t know when something that is unique today might become non-unique tomorrow. Plus integer surrogate keys are more efficient in joins than text fields.

Example: There are three unrelated instances of Westminster College, all in the United States.

Missouri (founded 1851): https://www.westminster-mo.edu/

Pennsylvania (founded 1852): http://www.westminster.edu/index.cfm

Utah (founded 1875): https://www.westminstercollege.edu/

Yes, two university can have the same name. One example is the Indian Institute of Technology, which is located in several places in India.

  • Welcome to SE Academia. Please consider improving your answer by adding more specific references, e.g. websites and/or addresses. Also please double-check for grammar/spelling. – Scientist Aug 17 at 14:07
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    But that's a common case, and no big deal. People say "IIT Bombay" or "IIT Hyderabad". It's not much different from, say, "UC Berkeley", "UC Los Angeles", etc. – 200_success Aug 17 at 16:24

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