A chance for Birks to shed label

March 28, 2003

Students at Birkbeck College will get the chance next week to rid their institution of their unfortunate "Birks of Birkbeck" label by becoming the champions of University Challenge 2003, writes Alison Utley.

The college team will play Cranfield University, also made up of mature students, in the final on Monday on BBC 2.

Birkbeck reached the final in 1998, but a year earlier got the lowest ever score of 40 points against Manchester University, which generated lots of flak and the "Birks" title.

Birkbeck's team members, who juggle full-time jobs with part-time degree study, often faced opponents half their age during the tournament. The age of one team that lost to the mature students caused presenter Jeremy Paxman to quip "never mind, at least you still have your own teeth".

The master of Birkbeck, David Latchman, said: "The possibly slower reactions on the buzzers of our team of mature students was more than compensated for by their outstanding ability."

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