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Universities challenged?

Has the credit crunch led even the brightest students to lose all interest in the financial services industry?

Apparently so, if a recently screened edition of University Challenge was an accurate barometer. A team from Oxford University’s Lincoln College emerged as the narrow winners of this group-stage encounter in the BBC’s long-running quiz show contested by undergraduates from the UK’s finest seats of learning.

In edging out their rivals from St John’s College, Cambridge, the four-man team from Oxford correctly answered posers on Shostakovich, German expressionist cinema and photosynthesis. But they came briefly unstuck when the show’s famously uncompromising quizmaster, Jeremy Paxman, turned the subject matter to modern-day banking. "In January 2008," he asked, "preliminary charges were filed against Jérome Kerviel, a rogue trader blamed for huge losses at which French bank?" Squirming uncomfortably, the captain eventually offered BNP as his answer, gratefully accepting the whispered tip of "Banque Nationale de Paris" from his team-mate.

When Société Générale sets about recruiting its next generation of PR consultants, Lincoln College Oxford might not be a bad place to start.

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