I’m not sure why, but I have always been rather proud of having attended the University of Manchester (which has since joined with UMIST). I guess it is because I have not attended any well-known school or worked for any company with a household name (with the exception of Marconi, which became famous during my brief tenure for the most spectacular corporate collapse in British history), yet everybody knows Manchester if not specifically its university.
Out here in the UAE, your alma mater is quite important. In order to be granted a work permit for most positions, especially technical ones such as an engineer, it is necessary to have a degree in a relevant subject. As part of the vetting process, you must get your degree certificate attested first by the British Council and then by the UAE authorities, who check it against a list of recognised institutions before stamping it with their approval. As you can imagine, people show up here with all sorts of degrees and diplomas from the Kanchenjunga College of Higher Education in Darjeeling or The Billabong University of Western Australia and have awful trouble getting their qualifications recognised by the UAE authorities, who will not issue a work permit until they are satisfied they are not bringing in a fuckwit. Unsurprisingly, the University of Manchester is recognised without hesitation, which makes things a lot easier when first arriving.
So it is with some degree of pride that I see the University of Manchester is ranked No. 58 in the Newsweek Top 100 Global Universities, and 8th amongst the British universities. I am sure the university’s position has been boosted by the merger with UMIST, which I thought was a thoroughly sensible move in an attempt to position itself in the global higher education marketplace which the current Labour government and many other British universities seem determined to abandon. Notably absent from the list are Durham University and St. Andrews, which I always thought ranked pretty highly. I am pleased to see Manchester beat Nottingham (78th), which leaves Bristol (49th) as the target to surpass in the future.
Whatever the significance of the list and Manchester’s position, it is as good a reason as any to wear my university tie to work each week.