Best use of Wordpress for a University with multiple colleges

Hi all,

I work for a University that has multiple colleges and research programmes going on. I would like a solution whereby I have my main theme with University branding, and then if a research programme comes along and say they want a website I can quickly generate a new website for them using the main theme (apart from some colour changes specific to the college that the research programme is part of) and apply user roles and install any extra plugins needed. Also to have the option to have the new minisite sat under its own domain, or else a subdomain.

I would like to find a Wordpress solution as Ive now built 2 sites in Wordpress (creating child themes) and really like it. Ive been reading up on Wordpress MS. Is that the way to go? Or BuddyPress? Or should I just install a new wordpress site for each minisite? But then Id have to add a child theme, plugins etc…

I suppose I just looking for guidance on what the best solution would be. What do you think? I can offer a better clarification on anything if needed.
Thanks

multisite feature?
http://codex.wordpress.org/Glossary#Multisite