Universities are where innovations, face-to-face interactions and social capital are commonplace. Nevertheless, often regarded as ?the ivory tower?, universities cannot be separated from the social and economic transformations outside of them. Traffic, information and financial flows between universities and other locations can be used to reveal connections between the ivory tower and other locales. Therefore, this paper uses the weekday public transit smartcard records from 6 to 9 April 2010 (158,262 transit trips in total, including bus-only, bus plus subway and subway-only trips) to identify and profile the most popular destinations of student riders from the ?985 universities? (a short list of top universities designated by the Chinese Central Government in 1999) and associated transit trip flows in Beijing. It identifies destination hotspots for the 985 universities’ students in Beijing, allocates traffic volume to major roads and delineates the transit trips of students from each campus. The results indicate that there exist only weak ties and little movement between the top universities and the most disadvantaged areas.