The University of Manchester and Manchestester Metropolitan University have been rivals since the 1970s. The Russel Group vs the arts. But is our rivalry still well-founded, or is there a chance for reconciliation between students?
Speaking as someone who has studied at both, I feel endowed with the experience to explain the prejudices and oftentimes the hostility between the two universities. This presents itself in the form of abuse, belittling, and most commonly, harmless insults.
One fine example is a conversation I overheard on a night out between two friends in which Man Met is nicknamed “Man Shit”. These sentiments aren’t uncommon among UoM students, with the mere thought Man Met students causing grimaces to appear on students’ faces. Yet, despite how mild these opinions may be, it fuels the unnecessary antagonism between the universities.
When asked by a friend why UoM is viewed as an almighty superior I was genuinely stumped.
The obvious answer is because its a Russell Group university. However, all that means is the University is historically well established, allowing it to demand higher entry grades. The RG title becomes even less glorified and more elitist when we realise that Russel Groups just specialise in academic subjects. They curb applied skill subjects like sports science which MMU specialises in.
Initially founded as a polytechnic in 1970, MMU has a legacy of specialising in applied skills and the arts. 50 years later, the university still can’t shake the stigma of being a polytechnic, which is where a lot of the rivalry stems from.
What it boils down to is academia vs applied skills. Neither is superior and neither is inferior. However, academia will give you the in-depth knowledge that UoM prides itself on. Ultimately, both of these routes equip students with the skills and qualifications needed for success in their fields.
But can the hatchet between the two universities ever be buried?
Tell me if any of these sound familiar: Excluding an MMU friend from intellectual conversation. Not inviting a UoM student to a party for fear they won’t be much fun. A sense of regret after sleeping with an MMU student.
I have seen these things happen repeatedly, making me wonder why students address rival uni students differently. Not to get all Martin Luther King on you, but I have a dream that we can sweep these facades aside one day. Hey, you may even be proud to sleep with an MMU student!
Growing up in Manchester at a time when degrees were becoming the next best thing since Corrie, I became acquainted with many graduates of both universities. Equally, I became aware of the success both parties have found.
It reminds me of a ‘Big Think’ by James Citrin: Employers partly care about the degree, and predominately focus on the experiences that separate you from the rest of the candidates.
At the end of the day, its up to you whether to attend Hogwarts or MMU, all I’m asking (if you’ll pardon the song reference) is for a little respect: respect between our fellow brethren here in the friendliest city in England. And as if more proof was needed, Steve Coogan went to MMU – who doesn’t love a bit of Alan Partridge?
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