The Times Higher Education pub quiz

Test your knowledge of higher education history, famous alumni and universities in pop culture

December 26, 2019
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Earlier this year we created the first ever Times Higher Education pub quiz to assess THE Live delegates’ knowledge of UK and global higher education.

It proved to be a truly formidable test with not one team answering at least 50 per cent of the answers correctly. Who knows if we’ll ever produce another higher education evaluation quite like this, so for the sake of posterity, here is an abridged version for your boxing day parlour games. Answers are below. Enjoy!

General knowledge

  1. Which two UK universities compete for the Tolstoy Cup? Hint: the trophy is inspired by a famous novel.
  2. What UK university links UKIP and the Rolling Stones?
  3. Which is the only UK university to be founded between the world wars?
  4. At which Oxford college is the controversial statute of Cecil Rhodes located above the main entrance?
  5. The TV show The Big Bang Theory is largely set around which US university? 

Famous alumni: name the university

  1. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
  2. Vladimir Putin
  3. Donald Trump
  4. Jodi Foster
  5. Jessica Ennis-Hill


  1. The higher education minister Chris Skidmore’s book, published in 2018, is subtitled England’s Most Controversial King. Who is it about?
  2. Jennifer Arcuri, Boris Johnson’s one-time technology adviser, was doing an MBA at which London business school when she met him in 2011?
  3. In January, which prominent TV historian was made Manchester University’s professor of public history?
  4. Last year a UK vice-chancellor celebrated his 25th anniversary in charge. Who is he?
  5. How many current UK vice-chancellors were knighted or given a damehood in the 2019 New Year Honours list?

Who said what?

  1. In January, Cherie Blair told THE that she applied to the LSE rather than Oxford or Cambridge because a) her father, actor Tony Booth, wanted her to go a politically active institution b) Oxbridge’s medieval architecture reminded her of her convent school c) she wanted to meet David Bowie.
  2. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy told THE that he didn’t worry about mistakes in his books. Why? a) he answers only to God, not fact checkers b) there are no books that don’t contain errors, particularly when you write with a sense of urgency c) haters are always going to hate, so, to quote Taylor Swift, he shook off such criticism.
  3. In October 2019, we interviewed Greg Gaffin – singer in US punk rock band Bad Religion and professor of evolutionary biology at Cornell University. He said he has felt snubbed by musicians because they thought of him as what? a) part of the establishment b) a college boy c) a bespectacled middle-aged man.


  1. Rank these universities by UK land ownership (in hectares): Oxford, Cambridge, Reading, Aberystwyth.
  2. From highest to lowest, rank these universities by proportion of private/independent school pupils admitted in 2017-18: Oxford, Exeter, Durham, St Andrews.
  3. Rank the v-c by salary: Louise Richardson, Stephen Toope, Sir David Eastwood, Dame Janet Beer.
  4. Put these universities in order of the size of their endowment in 2018: University of Texas System, Oxford, Harvard, Johns Hopkins.
  5. Put these ancient Scottish universities in order of formation: Glasgow, Aberdeen, St Andrews, Edinburgh.


General knowledge

  1. Kings College London and University of Bradford. KCL War Studies have an annual football match v Bradford Peace Studies, first played in 1994, annual since 2007.
  2. The LSE. UKIP’s founder Alan Sked was a professor at LSE when he founded the party in 1991, Mick Jagger studied accounting and finance at LSE but did not graduate.
  3. The University of Reading, founded in 1926.
  4. Oriel College
  5. Caltech

Famous alumni

  1. Glasgow Caledonian
  2. Saint Petersburg State University
  3. Fordham University, Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania
  4. Yale University
  5. Sheffield University


  1. Richard III
  2. Hult International Business School in Holborn
  3. David Olusoga
  4. John Cater (at Edge Hill)
  5. None (Lucy Cavendish College president Madeleine Atkins became a dame though)

Who said what?

  1. A) Her dad wanted her to go there
  2. B) He wrote a lot and with urgency
  3. B) A college boy


  1. Oxford, Cambridge, Reading, Abersywyth
  2. Oxford (42 per cent), St Andrews (40 per cent), Durham (39 per cent), Exeter (34 per cent)
  3. Toope (£431,000), Eastwood (£386,000), Richardson (£360,000), Beer (£278,000) – excludes bonus payments & pensions
  4. Harvard ($38bn), University of Texas System ($30.8bn), Cambridge ($6.2bn-£4.8bn) and Johns Hopkins ($4.6bn)
  5. St Andrews (1413), Glasgow (1453), Aberdeen (1455), Edinburgh (1583)

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