University of Canterbury

University Information, Campus and History
(Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand)

The University of Canterbury is one of the top research universities in New Zealand. Located in Christchurch, Canterbury, the University occupies a 76-hectare site in Ilam, 7 km / 4 miles from the Christchurch city centre. It offers degrees in a diverse range of fields, including arts, commerce and law, science, and social sciences.

The University was established in 1873, making it the second oldest university in New Zealand (The University of Otago was established four years ahead). It started out as Canterbury College, a constituent of the now-defunct University of New Zealand, and only gained status as an independent university in 1961. Its establishment is credited to the Canterbury Museum and the secondary school Christ's College, who disapproved Canterbury's higher education system at the time.

In 1933, the College was renamed to Canterbury University College, and upon gaining independent status, it was again renamed to the present University of Canterbury. With the closing of its mother university, the University acquired some of its independent units, most notably the Canterbury Agricultural College which it renamed Lincoln College. It eventually detached itself from the University, becoming its own university in 1990. Nevertheless, the University continued to expand with state funding, and from 1961 to 1974 it relocated to its current campus in Ilam. The old campus later became a cluster of museums and galleries and is now collectively known as the Christchurch Arts Centre.

Today, the University fosters a fast-growing academic community, with over 13,000 students and close to 1,000 staff members. It enjoys a steady reputation for world-class research, earning AUD$183 million in combined research and extension projects in the past year.


The University Library offers a wealth of information and electronic resources, housed in a large Central Library (the tallest building on campus) and five constituent libraries. All libraries offer reading and discussion halls and audio-video viewing rooms, and a user-friendly electronic database allows students to search for particular materials from any computer within and outside the campus.

The University has some of the most advanced research facilities in the country, particularly in the agriculture and environmental science areas. It is home to four environmental field stations conducting studies in marine environment, forestry, and mining. It also has a satellite field station in Nigeria, where it actively cooperates with partners in the Nigerian Montane Forests Project.

Some of the major field laboratories for physics and astronomy in New Zealand are also owned by the University. The Cracroft Cavern ring laser facility has seen many landmark laser experiments, and the Department of Physics and Astronomy works closely with partners in the South African Large Telescope project.

Famous Students

The University of Canterbury has produced several students who later became prominent personalities in their respective fields. Perhaps its most famous graduate is Ernest Rutherford, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on radioactivity and the disintegration of atoms. Other prominent alumni include UN Ambassador Rosemary Banks, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minster Michael Cullen, and Parliament Member Nick Smith.

Contact University of Canterbury:
Address: International Office, Level 4, Registry Building, Christchurch, 8140, Canterbury, New Zealand
Tel: +64 3 366 7001
Canterbury University

Canterbury University

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