Before they study at the university, students should spend a year traveling and working.
OK so there’s a difference between university and the university. The same difference applies to school and the school.
This is the abstract label given to a type of tertiary education.
Students graduating from university (uncountable, abstract)
Photo: Tom Speed
In each of these examples, we don’t know which university (Sydney, Universitas Indonesia, etc.). We’re simply referring to the level and type of education.
The university (countable), on the other hand is concrete. It refers to a particular university (or universities) with particular buildings in particular locations.
This university (countable, concrete) has some very old buildings
In our opening example, the writer is talking about the abstract idea of university as tertiary education following school (secondary education), and so it is inappropriate in this case to use the.
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