The quality-of-life table was an unsubtle version of the old adage that it's grim up north. I suggest that the categories are reorganised so that the discovery of the obvious is not so blatant next year. I propose that institutions are ranked on the following (and this is based on a detailed survey of what really matters to academic colleagues):
- Number of cultural institutions within 2 miles that an academic would be seen dead in (higher is better);
- Number of Premier League football clubs within a 20-mile radius that have been heard of outside the UK (higher is better);
- Number of countries' cuisines represented in restaurants within 2 miles (higher is better);
- Number of national parks within one hour's travelling distance (higher is better);
- Number of people complaining in the local pub about levels of immigration into the "town" (lower is better);
- Miles you'll be forced to drive your children to take them to activities. Counted as zero if the bus network is so good that they will get where they want on their own (lower is better);
- Weather - miles to nearest international airport that can get you to at least 20 destinations where you can get a tan in January (lower is better).
Based on a detailed calibration of results, it seems that the University of Manchester has just shot up the table.
James Thompson, School of Arts, Histories and Cultures University of Manchester.