‘We used to go to The Haçienda all the time’: We spoke to Brian Cox about his time as a Manchester student

According to the prof, your experience is more valuable than your grades

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Brian Cox OBE, arguably Manchester's most famous alumni and funky physicist sat down with The Tab Manchester at Vita Student Manchester to chat to us about his time at Manchester, expanding his mind and The Haçienda.

What are your fondest memories of your time as a student in Manchester?

"Well, there's one memory and then there is another, more intellectual memory."

Tell us about your intellectual memory first, then?

"Well, I took a few years off before I came to university, so technically I was a mature student. I was 23. What I found truly amazing was the expansion and the range of ideas, and being challenged. And meeting so many different people from all over the world. It was exhilarating."

So you enjoyed the learning aspect of university?

"It's good to ask yourself really, what the point of university is? It's not about passing exams – it is, in a sense an investment into your future, but also a personal investment in your development. Your benefit is being exposed to so many ideas, and people. That's the great thing about Manchester is that you have the opportunity to do that. You see, I'm from Oldham which isn't far, but if I had stayed there I wouldn't have met all those amazing people. I remember that really vividly. That was a really important part of my university experience."

So, where did you spend most of your time in Manchester?

"Living in this city is brilliant. We used to go to Jabez Clegg, an amazing student night spot. But I suppose it's closed now. It was behind Brunswick Street. It was a lovely little bar. But obviously I grew up in Manchester, anyway so we used to go The Haçienda all the time. And I used to play gigs, because I was in bands."

Did you live in Fallowfield?

"Erm, I didn't live in halls. I moved in and out of student houses and my parent's house in Oldham so I sort of oscillated a bit. I floated around, because my parents were so close my living situation was a bit unusual I spent a lot of time staying with friends and things."

So what do you think of the strikes?

"It's complicated, it's obviously a debate about whether the pension scheme is funded properly. There is a case of people assuming things, and debating the facts. It's a question of society, really, and how we want pensions to function in our society. Most lecturers that I've spoken to are more worried about the prolonged impact that it will have on students. But people are right to be annoyed about a change in their work practices."

So, you're a lecturer – what's your favourite aspect of that?

"I like teaching first years, and I've enjoyed teaching in my times. The first year modules are enormous."

Do you find it difficult teaching with your celeb status?

"You know as students yourselves that you're here to learn, there may be about 10 minutes where they may be thinking about seeing me on telly, but I'm just a normal lecturer to them and the biggest of their worries is if they can read my handwriting."

Do you remember, a couple of years ago, being corrected by one of your students on the e=mc ² equation?

"Erm, no I don't remember. We do have banter across the lecture hall sometimes. The students I teach are pretty confident, their A Levels are incredible, A*, A*, A*"