Laurie Taylor Column

April 1, 2005

Are you at a real university?

The news that six higher education colleges are to achieve "full university status" has increased demands for a reliable student guide to what counts as a full university. Those in doubt will find the following checklist of immediate value.

Q1. When staff at your institution get together for an intellectual discussion after work, what is the most appropriate description of that meeting?

(a) Colloquium

(b) Staff seminar

(c) Miracle

Q2. What is the nominal designation of your principal teacher?

(a) Professor

(b) Doctor

(c) "Mike"

Q3. What do you call the person with principal responsibility for your financial affairs?

(a) The bursar

(b) The chief finance officer

(c) The accused

Q4. What major sporting traditions are associated with your institution?

(a) An annual boat race

(b) A summer cricket tournament

(c) Weekend binge fighting

Q5. What is the name of the location where academics meet during their free time?

(a) Senior common room

(b) Staff room

(c) Photocopying cubicle

Q6. Which is the most likely site for a public appearance by one of your graduates?

(a) Nobel laureate ceremony

(b) University Challenge

(c) Employee-of-the-week board

Q7. What is the motto above your main gates?

(a) Hic lucem et pocula sacra

(b) Through truth lies knowledge

(c) No dumping

Calculation of institutional status: three marks for every (a), two for every (b), and one for every (c).

16-21 marks. You certainly belong to a real university. But then you knew that all along, didn't you?

11-15 marks. You just about belong to a university. But watch out, your chemistry and maths departments could go any day.

7-10 marks. Take care. You may have accidentally wandered into a war zone.

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