The page you are visiting was formerly part of the Which? University website, but is now being provided by The Uni Guide — part of The Student Room. For more information please click here.

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn more

Five unusual university traditions

Quirky student customs that you might find yourself involved in…

Universities are little universes in their own right. And once you enter, you’ll become immersed in their individual culture, rituals and ceremonies. 

Some university traditions are slightly stranger than others - but it’s these quirks that make each uni so unique. From GMT backwards walking, to midnight streaking, these are a few of the more curious customs you might find yourself participating in. 

1. Time Ceremony 

• Where: Merton College, Oxford

Why do hundreds of port drinking students walk backwards around a quadrangle at 1am once a year? To ensure the clocks go back of course! Since 1971, students at Merton College, Oxford, don gowns and mortarboards, link arms and walk from 1am until 2am on whatever night GMT falls, in a bid to ensure ‘a successful time change’. The ceremony goers take their responsibility very seriously and no one can stop until the hour has passed.

2. Angus The Bull Ceremony 

• Where: University of Aberdeen

With power, comes great responsibility. And for any new rectors of Aberdeen University, that means riding aloft a life-sized bull carried by students. After a ceremonious trip through town starting on the Uni's mascot Angus, you must then buy anyone that carried you a pint. Cheers to that! 

3. Bodleian Initiation

• Where: Oxford University 

The beautiful Bodleian, with its collection of over 12 million books and journals, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The students of Oxford University have access to all its academic wealth BUT before they are issued with a library card, the following pledge has to be recited aloud: 

“I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”

4. Raisin Weekend

• Where: University of St Andrews

Back in ye olden days, it was tradition for first year students to offer their 'academic parents' - third year students - a bag of raisins as a token of gratitude for their guidance. These days it involves less dried fruit and more activities like foam fights and pub crawls. This is last year's Raisin weekend schedule: 

First Day

12pm: head over to your academic mum's for lunch, cake, and fun games with your academic family (remember to bring a nice gift)
5pm: head over to you academic dad's for dinner, snacks, and fun games with your academic siblings (remember to bring a nice gift)

Second Day

8am: breakfast
9am: head over to your academic mum's and she will dress you up in a costume
10am: head over to your academic dad's and he will give you your Raisin receipt
11am: Foam Fight on Lower College Lawn (entrance via North Street)

5. The 31sts

• Where: Durham University 

This naughty invite-only club streak naked around Palace Green on the final day of any month with 31 days. It used to be a mad dash just before midnight, but due to a police clamp down, the times are often tweaked to avoid any bare-cheeked brushes with the law. 

Search The Uni Guide

Find further advice or search for information on a course or university