University Of Canterbury Wikipedia

The University of Canterbury (Māori: Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha; postnominal abbreviation Cantuar. or Cant. for Cantuariensis, the Latin name for Canterbury) is New Zealand’s second oldest university (after the University of Otago, itself founded four years earlier in 1869).

It was founded in 1873 as Canterbury College, the first constituent college of the University of New Zealand. Its original campus was in the Christchurch Central City, but in 1961 it became an independent university and began moving out of its original neo-gothic buildings, which were re-purposed as the Christchurch Arts Centre. The move was completed on 1 May 1975[2] and the university now operates its main campus in the Christchurch suburb of Ilam and offers degrees in Arts, Commerce, Education (physical education), Engineering, Fine Arts, Forestry, Health Sciences, Law, Music, Social Work, Speech and Language Pathology, Science, Sports Coaching and Teaching. Music and classics are again taught from the Christchurch Arts Centre [3] and within the new Manawa building in Christchurch city health and education are taught. [4]



Former University of Canterbury campus in the city centre, today the Christchurch Arts Centre

The university originated in 1873 in the centre of Christchurch as Canterbury College, the first constituent college of the University of New Zealand. It became the second institution in New Zealand providing tertiary-level education (following the University of Otago, established in 1869), and the fourth in Australasia.[citation needed] Its foundation professors arrived in 1874, namely, Charles Cook (Mathematics, University of Melbourne, St John’s College, Cambridge), Alexander Bickerton (Chemistry and Physics, School of Mining, London), and John Macmillan Brown (University of Glasgow, Balliol College, Oxford).[5] In 1933, the name changed from Canterbury College to Canterbury University College. In 1957 the name changed again to the present University of Canterbury.[6]

Until 1961, the university formed part of the University of New Zealand (UNZ), and issued degrees in its name. That year saw the dissolution of the federal system of tertiary education in New Zealand, and the University of Canterbury became an independent University awarding its own degrees. Upon the UNZ’s demise, Canterbury Agricultural College became a constituent college of the University of Canterbury, as Lincoln College.[7] Lincoln College became independent in 1990 as a full university in its own right.[8]

Over the period from 1961 to 1974, the university campus relocated from the centre of the city to its much larger current site in the suburb of Ilam. The neo-gothic buildings of the old campus became the site of the Christchurch Arts Centre, a hub for arts, crafts and entertainment in Christchurch.[citation needed]

In 2004, the University underwent restructuring into four Colleges and a School of Law, administering a number of schools and departments (though a number of departments have involvement in cross-teaching in numerous academic faculties). For many years the university worked closely with the Christchurch College of Education, leading to a full merger in 2007, establishing a fifth College.[9]

In 2012 the School of Law merged with the Business School to form the College of Business and Law.[10]

In September 2011, plans were announced to demolish some University buildings that were damaged from an earthquake.[11] In the months following the earthquake, the University lost 25 per cent of its first-year students and 8 per cent of continuing students. The number of international students, who pay much higher fees and are a major source of revenue, dropped by 30 per cent.[12][13] By 2013, the University had lost 22 per cent of its students.[14] However, a record number of 886 PhD students are enrolled at the University of Canterbury as of 2013.[15] Other New Zealand universities, apparently defying an informal agreement, launched billboard and print advertising campaigns in the earthquake-ravaged city to recruit University of Canterbury students who are finding it difficult to study there.[16] In October 2011, staff were encouraged to take voluntary redundancies.[17]

Student numbers are now steadily on the rise, with a 4.5% increase in students enrolled from 2013 to 2016. International numbers are also increasing, nearing pre-earthquake figures at 1,134 enrolled in 2016.[18]

In March 2016, Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr said in The Press newspaper: “In 2014, they wanted to leave Christchurch and went to Wellington, Otago and into the workforce. Now we’re retaining Christchurch school leavers and we’re getting our fair share of provincial students, as well as attracting greater numbers from the Auckland region. Living on or near the UC campus, and having a lifestyle that can take you from lectures to skifields in 90 minutes or the beach in 20 minutes, is much more appealing and affordable than living in Auckland.”[19]

In 2013 the New Zealand Government agreed to provide $260m to support the University’s rebuild programme.[20] In January 2017, the University of Canterbury released its campus master plan – 50 building and landscape projects proposed over three stages by 2045, the cost could exceed $2bn.[21] In a comment to The Press, Rod Carr said that the plans were proof the university was moving away from the falling enrolments post-earthquake.[21]

In 2019 a new Vice Chancellor, Professor Cheryl del and Chancellor were appointed, with a new chapter for the University commencing on the back of a largely rebuilt campus. [22]


See also: the categories Chancellors of the University of Canterbury and Vice-Chancellors of the University of Canterbury.Joshua Williams, first chair of the Board of GovernorsTerry McCombs, chancellor of the University of Canterbury between 1968 and 1971, in 1935

The university was first governed by a board of governors (1873–1933), then by a college council (1933–1957), and since 1957 by a university council.[23] The council is chaired by a chancellor.[24] The Council includes representatives from the faculties, students and general staff, as well as local industry, employer and trade union representatives.[25]

The original composition of the board of governors was defined in the Canterbury College Ordinance 1873,[26] which was passed by the Canterbury Provincial Council and named 23 members who might serve for life. Initially, the board was given power to fill their own vacancies, and this power transferred to graduates once their number exceeded 30.[27] At the time, there were discussions about the abolition of provincial government (which did happen in 1876), and the governance structure was set up to give board members “prestige, power and permanence”, and “provincial authority and its membership and resources were safely perpetuated, beyond the reach of grasping hands in Wellington.”[28]

Original members of the Board of Governors were:[29] Charles Bowen, Rev James Buller,[30][31][32] William Patten Cowlishaw,[33] John Davies Enys,[34] Charles Fraser, George Gould Sr,[35] Henry Barnes Gresson,[36] William Habens, John Hall, Henry Harper, John Inglis,[37] Walter Kennaway,[38] Arthur C. Knight,[39] Thomas William Maude,[40] William Montgomery, Thomas Potts, William Rolleston, John Studholme, Henry Tancred, James Somerville Turnbull,[41] Henry Richard Webb, Joshua Williams, and Rev William Wellington Willock.[42]

Professor Roy Sharp assumed the position of Vice-Chancellor on 1 March 2003.[43] In May 2008 he announced his imminent resignation from the position, following his acceptance of the chief executive position at the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC)[44][45] which he took up on 4 August 2008.[46] The then current Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Town, assumed the role of acting Vice-Chancellor on 1 July 2008. On 15 October 2008 the university announced that Rod Carr, a former banker and the CEO of a local software company, would begin a five-year appointment as Vice-Chancellor on 1 February 2009.[47]

Council member and former Pro-Chancellor, Rex Williams, became Chancellor in 2009.[48] Council member John Wood became the new Pro-Chancellor. On 1 January 2012, Wood became Chancellor after Williams retired from the role.[48]

Chairmen of the Board of Governors[29]Chairmen of the College Council[29]Chancellors
Joshua Williams (1873–1875) 
Henry Barnes Gresson[49] (1875) 
William Montgomery (1875–1885) 
Frederick de Carteret Malet[50] (1885–1894) 
Henry Richard Webb (1894–1901) 
Thomas S. Weston (1901–1902) 
Arthur Rhodes (1902–1904) 
Charles Lewis (1904–1907) 
George Warren Russell (1907–1910) 
Jonathan Charles Adams[51] (1910–1918) 
Henry Acland[52] (1918–1928) 
George John Smith (1928–1932) 
Christopher Thomas Aschman[53] (1932–1933)
Christopher Thomas Aschman (1933–1938) 
Arthur Edward Flower[54] (1938–1944) 
John Henry Erle Schroder[55] (1944–1946) 
Walter Cuthbert Colee (1946–1948) 
Joseph George Davidson Ward[56] (1946–1951) 
William John Cartwright (1951–1954) 
Donald William Bain (1954–1957)
Donald William Bain[23] (1957–1959) 
Carleton Hunter Perkins[23] (1959–1965) 
Alwyn Warren[23] (1965–1968) 
Terry McCombs[23] (1968–1971) 
John Matson[57] (1972–1976) 
Brian Anderson[57] (1977–1979) 
Jean Herbison[58] (1979–1984) 
Charles Caldwell[57] (1984–1986) 
Richard Bowron[57] (1987–1991) 
Ian Leggat[57] (1992–1997) 
Phyllis Guthardt[57] (1998–2002) 
Robin Mann[57] (2003–2008) 
Rex Williams[48][59] (2009–2012) 
John Wood[48] (2012–2018) 
Susan McCormack (2019–present)


The Puaka-James Hight building at the University of Canterbury

The University has a main campus of 76 hectares (190 acres) at Ilam, a suburb of Christchurch about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the centre of the city. The University maintains three libraries, with the Central Library (Māori: Te Puna Mātauraka o Waitaha) housed in the tallest building on campus, the 11-storey Puaka-James Hight building.

The University’s College of Education, Health and Human Development maintains additional small campuses in Nelson, Tauranga and Timaru, and teaching centres in Greymouth, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Timaru. The University has staff in regional information offices in Nelson, Timaru, and Auckland.

The University of Canterbury has ten halls of residence housing around 2,279 students.[60] The largest of these are Ilam Apartments and University Hall with 845 residents and 539 residents, respectively. Six of these halls (Ilam Apartments, University Hall, Kirkwood Avenue Hall, Waimairi Village, Sonoda Village and Hayashi Village) are managed by UC Accommodation,[61] a subsidiary of Campus Living Villages, while the university maintains ownership of the property and buildings. Sonoda Christchurch Campus has a close relationship with Sonoda Women’s University in Amagasaki, Japan. Bishop Julius, College House and Rochester and Rutherford are run independently.

The ten halls of residence are:

  • Bishop Julius Hall – 158 beds[62]
  • Ilam Apartments – 845 beds[62]
  • College House – 159 beds[62]
  • Rochester and Rutherford Hall – 178 beds[62]
  • Sonoda Christchurch Campus – 114 beds[62]
  • University Hall – 539 beds[62]
  • Hayashi (formerly Dovedale) – 90 beds[63]
  • Kirkwood Avenue Hall – 68 beds[64]
  • Waimairi Village – 60 beds[65]

New Zealand Prime MinisterJacinda Ardern opened the Ernest Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre in 2018.Student Bridge, Molesworth Stationdesigned and built by C.U.C. engineering students 1944

The University of Canterbury has the most field stations of any New Zealand University.[66] The Field Facilities Centre[67] administers four of these field-stations:

  • Cass Field Station[68] – Provides a wide range of environments: montane grasslands, scrub, riverbed, scree, beech forest, swamp, bog, lake, stream and alpine habitats; all accessible by day-trips on foot
  • Harihari Field Station[69] – Access to native forests, streams
  • Westport Field Station[70] – for study of the West Coast of New Zealand, particularly mining
  • Kaikoura Field Station[71] – Kaikoura represents an important transition zone for flora and fauna, particularly in the marine environment, with Kowhai bush and associated rich bird life close by.

The University and its project-partners also operate an additional field-station in the Nigerian Montane Forests Project[72] – this field station stands on the Ngel Nyaki forest edge in Nigeria.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy runs its own field laboratories:

  • Mount John University Observatory at Lake Tekapo for optical astronomical research[73]
  • Birdling’s Flat radar facility[74]
  • Scott Base radar facility[75]
  • Cracroft Caverns ring laser facility[76]

The Department of Physics and Astronomy also has involvement in the Southern African Large Telescope[77] and is a member of the IceCube collaboration which is installing a neutrino telescope at the South Pole.[78][79]


There are three[80] libraries on campus each covering different subject areas.

  • Central Library (Māori: Te Puna Mātauraka o Waitaha)[80] – is housed in the Puaka-James Hight Building. Originally named after former Canterbury professor James Hight.[81] The building was renamed Puaka-James Hight in 2014, after the brightest star in the constellation Orion, to reflect the growing strength of UC’s relationship with Ngāi Tahu and the mana of Te Ao Māori at the heart of the University’s campus.[82] The Central Library has collections that support research and teaching in Humanities, Social Sciences, Law, Commerce, Music, Fine Arts and Antarctic Studies.[80]
  • EPS Library (Engineering and Physical Sciences Library, Māori: Kā Puna Pūkahataka me te Pūtaiao)[80] – Supports research and teaching in Engineering, Forestry and Sciences.[80]
  • Macmillan Brown Library (Māori: Te Puna Rakahau o Macmillan Brown)[80] – is a research library, archive, and art gallery that specializes in collecting items related to New Zealand and Pacific Islands history.[83][84] It holds over 100,000 published items including books, audio-visual recordings, and various manuscripts, photographs, works of art, architectural drawings and ephemera. The Macmillan Brown Library’s art collection also has over 5,000 works, making it one of the largest collections in the Canterbury region.[85] The library is named after John Macmillan Brown, a prominent Canterbury academic who helped found the library.[83][84]


University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[86]401–500
THE World[87]351–400
QS World[88]231

In the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2017, UC was ranked in the world’s top 500 universities.[86] In 2017/18 QS World University Rankings ranked the University of Canterbury 214th overall in the world, and the third highest ranked university in New Zealand.[89][90] Its individual global faculty rankings for 2015/2016 were: 146th in Arts & Humanities, 161st in Engineering & IT, 211th in Natural Sciences, and 94th in Social Sciences and Management.[91] By 2018, these faculty rankings had all fallen considerably,[92] and as of the release of the QS 2019 World University Rankings, both ARWU and QS had placed UC at 4th place out of the 8 New Zealand universities overall.[93][94] In the 2016–2017 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, UC was ranked in the world’s top 400 universities,[95] up from being in the world’s top 500 universities in 2015.[96][97] By contrast, ARWU dropped UC from the top 400 universities in 2016 to the top 500 in 2017.[86]

The University was the first in New Zealand to be granted five stars by QS Stars.[98][99] Unlike the QS World University rankings, QS Stars ratings are only given to universities that pay a fee; the programme is designed to give “those institutions that are not highly ranked or do not appear in the rankings an opportunity to reach out to their prospect students, to stand out and to be recognised for their excellence.”[100][101]