A-Z of Universities Manchester

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Age: 146

Address: Half a mile from the city centre on Oxford Road.

Ambience: Buildings range from grand Victorian to Sixties dreary to Eighties towering blocks. Combines city life with campus community, ie urban vitality with friendliness. The city has a huge student population, including Umist and Manchester Met, and the university is one of the largest in the country. You shouldn't suffer from boredom here. And you should emerge an enthusiastic cheerleader for the North.

Vital statistics: One of the great traditional civic universities, it takes 19,000 full-time students and 4,000 part-time, balancing numbers between arts and sciences. Decided to protect its teaching and research in the early Nineties by not opting for fast expansion. Has a good reputation for research and for the quality of its students, though underwent a rocky patch when it was without a vice-chancellor in the early Nineties.

Added value: The university runs the Jodrell Bank science centre, the Planetarium and the Arboretum, as well as the Whitworth art gallery and the Manchester museum.

Easy to get into? No. You need As and Bs for law and joint courses including law, dentistry, English, medicine, psychology and engineering programmes enabling study in the US. Arts subjects mostly require three Bs. Average grades for other subjects are BBB-CCC.

Glittering alumni: Anna Ford, newscaster; Ben Elton, Rik Mayall, the Chemical Brothers, comedians; Louise Wener, lead singer of Sleeper; Paul Bradley (Nigel in EastEnders); Sir Norman Foster, architect; Anthony Burgess, writer; Robert Bolt, playwright; Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, composer; Austin Mitchell MP, Phil Woolas MP, David Clarke, Cabinet minister (all Labour); Sir Maurice Oldfield (ex-MI6); Christabel Pankhurst, suffragette.

Transport links: two mainline railway stations - Manchester Piccadilly for London and the South, and Manchester Victoria for almost everywhere else. Excellent bus routes. Plenty of roads. Cycling lanes on major routes.

Who's the boss? Professor Martin Harris, a linguist and the nation's top vice-chancellor, who is currently chairman of the CVCP and used to be v-c of Essex. Known for unassuming manner and smooth talking.

Teaching rating: Was awarded 21 out of a maximum possible of 24 in linguistics, sociology, German, history of art, materials science and drama. Awarded 20 points in Iberian languages, 19 in French and Italian, and 16 in Russian and Eastern European languages.

Research: Came 24th out of 101 in the research assessment exercise based on the average points scored by each researcher. In 18 subjects received the top 5 or tip-top 5* rating. They were dentistry, pharmacy, biochemistry, physics, pure mathematics, computer science, metallurgy, law, anthropology, sociology, accountancy, Middle Eastern studies, French, German, linguistics, history, theology and religious studies and music.

Financial health: University claims it's OK. Current Noble's Higher Education Financial Yearbook shows a deficit of pounds 4.6m in 1995-6. But university was in surplus last year.

Night-life: The old Cotton Exchange is now the nationally renowned Royal Exchange theatre. Good clubbing scene. Live venues all over the city. Tasty curries and Chinese nosh. University has two theatres - the Contact and the Stephen Jones Studio - as well as film club and two or three discos a week. University's main music venue is the Academy, which attracts hot bands.

Cheap to live in? Standard room in self-catering hall is pounds 37 a week; en-suite room (self-catering) is pounds 54. Single room in hall with meals is pounds 67. Private rents from pounds 38 a week.

Buzz-word: top (term of approbation)

Next: Manchester Metropolitan