Dead kings and dodos are a hard act to follow

Witches, ducks, dead kings and dodos are among the reasons why people feel proud of their university, according to a Times Higher Education competition.

September 26, 2012

To celebrate THE's Twitter feed amassing more than 50,000 followers, we challenged our readers to describe why they love their university in no more than 50 words.

Lecturers, students and alumni all got involved, including Claire Warwick, professor of digital humanities at University College London.

"I love UCL: where else can you meet a dead philosopher in a box, half a dodo and a jar of moles who tweet?" she tweeted, referring to some of the curiosities on display at the university's Grant Museum of Zoology. The moles, incidentally, can be found via their Twitter handle: @GlassJarOfMoles.

Daniel Stevens, international students' officer at the National Union of Students, prefers his animals with a heart beat. Topping the list of reasons why he loves his former haunt at the University of Warwick is "its ducks", closely followed by "the mighty Koan" which is a six-foot high rotating white conical sculpture complete with fluorescent lights that sits outside the university's arts centre.

But if you prefer your creatures to be mythical, the University of Exeter's Andrew McInnes can recommend his institution's Cornwall Campus. Its "off the beaten track" location stirs images of "witches, Goths, and hobbits", he tweets.

Other responses wasted no time getting to the point. For example, Gary Foster went for the University of Bristol quite simply because "it's in Bristol - what more do you need?"

There were also some more serious entries too. Jack Parnell, a graduate of Brunel University, praised the "passion" of the academics at his old institution, while Lucy Shipley described the University of Southampton as "a place of warmth and camaraderie".

But our favourite came from University of Leicester's Laura Freeman, who praised her university "because: not only can we dig up Richard III (almost definitely!) we can DNA test him too".

Thanks to everyone who tweeted us as part of the #THE50k competition. You can follow THE on Twitter at

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