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Run to the hills: A scary new university climate change ranking

One day it may be the only ranking that matters - Paul Greatrix ranks universities by their height above sea level.
This article is more than 6 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

Inspired by an original idea and initial outline by @plashingvole here is your climate change league table. It’s a ranking of selected UK universities by their height above sea level. What this tells us is that many institutions are sitting pretty on high ground and will remain standing proud as rising sea levels begin to take their toll.

There are others though, and I’m sure we would we all be keen to see their risk registers, which are looking in a rather precarious position as the waves start to roll in.

So, where are the driest universities of the future?

RankInstitutionMetres above sea level
1Keele 186
2Bath 183
3Birmingham 140
4Edinburgh 93
5Exeter 92
6Brighton 90
7Warwick 86
8=Leeds 82
8=Durham 82
10Bristol 77
11Surrey 66
12=Oxford 63
12=Lancaster 63
14Loughborough 50
15Nottingham 45
16Glasgow 38
17St Andrews 24
18=LSE 21
20Cumbria  20
21York 15
22Swansea 13
23=Imperial College 12
23=Cambridge  12
25Southampton Solent 8.69
26Portsmouth 6.71
27Suffolk 4.32

Meanwhile, in a nascent international ranking there are several universities which really do operate in a highly rarefied atmosphere:

La Paz University 3,857m
Tibet University, Lhasa 3,658m
Addis Ababa Institute of Technology 2,473m

No danger of getting wet feet there.

However, there are two universities in the Netherlands which are in a much riskier position:

The University of Amsterdam is only 78cm above sea level. Scary.

And, in an even more precarious situation, we have Delft University which is, in fact, 48cm *below* sea level. There are a number of other areas around the world below sea level, from the Cambridgeshire Fens to Baku, and some Pacific and Indian Ocean islands which are very close to going below the waterline but I’ve yet to find any universities others than Delft which are actually below sea level.

Some food for thought for future job applications or institutional partnerships there.

Thanks again to @plashingvole for the prompt.

18 responses to “Run to the hills: A scary new university climate change ranking

  1. Profound apologies to @PlashingVole for the appalling omission of what would have been the 3rd placed institution, the University of Wolverhampton at 153m above sea level.

  2. I came up to the sixth floor when I got to work this morning. No allowance for that.

  3. I am from Delft and really love to be ‘lowest’. However, sadly it isn’t correct. Erasmus university in Rotterdam beats us on this, they are -1.2 m below sealevel 😉

  4. Lovely spirit of fair play there from Delft! Will refer this one to the judges for further consideration.

  5. “I really must question the validity and methodology of this league table…”
    “You’re in the top 5”
    “Oh, well I never doubted it for a moment. When will it be incorporated into the TEF metrics and THE world rankings?”

  6. I look forward to the new ‘sail to work’ scheme and the assessment of LSRs (lifeguard-student ratios)

  7. Hmm, being a low-lander originally I moved from near-the-sea-Kent to on-the-hill-Bath until it dawned on me that a place with that name might still mean wet feet. Went to Warwick thinking ‘it’s about as far from any sea side as I can get’…. and now you tell me I’ve moved closer to sea level again!

  8. Just ensure no-one attempts to convert this to a percentage global position or we’ll all be in trouble.

  9. Here at the University of Sheffield, where I am in the computing dept. is 100 metres above sea level, while Firth Court is 123m and our business school is 160m . So I think we’re pretty safe.

  10. This source shows 66m for Edinburgh. Sunk by 27m in only a day. I’m extremely worrried.

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