A recipe for success?

October 5, 2011

World-class research, excellent teaching, cheap booze: what are the ingredients that make a great university?

Scholars throughout history have disagreed. As chronicled in Times Higher Education’s teaser video for this year’s World University Rankings, Leonardo da Vinci believed that students needed to surpass their professors to succeed and Samuel Johnson was in favour of stern discipline.

Although the world rankings, released at midnight tonight, look at 13 different measures including international outlook, reputation and citation count, THE decided to open up the question to its followers on social media to see what they felt made a truly great university. Responses range from the philosophical to the practical, from the brazenly self-serving to the frankly bizarre. Below are a selection of replies from Twitter:

@rgu_prescd: “A great uni is one that cares about students while making a valuable contribution to local and global community #THEWUR”

@ahodgeuk: “A safe environment where you can explore and get things wrong and learn from it. So as not to make the same mistakes again!”

@robynowensL “A good university prepares students for a job. A great university prepares students for any job.”

@NUS_Robin “A great uni provides a quality cutting-edge education to all with ability to succeed, not just to those with ability to pay”

@rdbusser: “A great university is a place where people can gather new knowledge freely and in and atmosphere of friendly cooperation and don't have to pay through the nose to get it ... and good coffee, of course, ideally with some cookies or cake”

@ResearchCounsel: “What makes a university great? Cheese.”

@c_beaven_ffc: “GreatUni = a uni where professors have balance between passion for subject, ability to teach it 2 others & facilities to do so”

@researchimpact “A great univ = place that is intellectually risk tolerant”

@vonprond: “A great university is intellectually ambitious, socially aware, and engaged and networked”

@BobCesca: “What makes a great university? A place where you feel comfortable, supported, and valued, no matter your position #LoveHE”

@conorjh: “a great University is one where you don't have to worry about being a great University.”

@simple_worries: “a university where minds are filled with knowledge, skills are developed, & individuals are inspired to become more...”

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