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The University of Canterbury in Christchurch is New Zealand's second oldest university. It was founded in 1873 as Canterbury College, the first constituent college of the University of New Zealand. Its original campus was in the central city, but in 1961 when it became an independent university it also began moving out of its original neo-gothic buildings, which were re-purposed as the Christchurch Arts Centre. The university now operates its main campus in the 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.
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.
The Canterbury Museum and Library and Christ's College, dissatisfied with the state of higher education in Canterbury, had both worked towards setting up Canterbury College. In 1933, the name changed from Canterbury College to Canterbury University College. In 1957 the name changed again to the present University of Canterbury.
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. Lincoln College became independent in 1990 as a full university in its own right.
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.
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.
Gain admission to UC
Your eligibility for admission to Bachelor's degrees and Undergraduate certificates and diplomas is based on your previous qualifications and results.
Admission with New Zealand University Entrance
If you've achieved NCEA University Entrance, or if you have a Bursary or pre-1986 University Entrance, you'll be admitted through this category.
Find out more about NCEA University Entrance.
Admission with other qualifications
If you have another New Zealand qualification, or the international equivalent of New Zealand University Entrance, you'll be admitted through the category, known at UC as Admission Ad Eundem Statum.
Admission with international qualifications
If you gained your qualifications outside of New Zealand you need to check the minimum requirements relevant to the country you studied in.
There are three major world university rankings. In the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2016, UC is ranked in the world's top 400 universities. It dropped from the ARWU rankings in 2015 because it was found to have fallen below the world's top 500 universities, and ARWU ranks only as far down as the world's top 500 universities. In 2016/17 QS World University Rankings ranked the University of Canterbury 214th overall in the world, and the third highest ranked university in New Zealand. 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. UC's QS ranking has fallen from 2015/16, when it rose to 211th from 242nd in 2014/15. UC has consistently been the third highest ranked New Zealand University since 2012. In the 2016-2017 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, UC is ranked in the world's top 400 universities, after being downgraded in 2015 to one of the world's top 500 universities.
The University was the first in New Zealand to have been granted five stars by QS Stars. 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.
The University of Canterbury Students' Association (UCSA) operates on campus with its own radio station (RDU) and magazine (Canta). The Association also runs two bars and several cafes around campus. The popular on-campus bar, "The Foundry", known as "The Common Room" from 2005, has reverted to its former name as promised by 2008 USCA president, Michael Goldstein. Prior to earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the UCSA also ran the now damaged 430-seat Ngaio Marsh Theatre.
The University has over 140 academic, sporting, recreational and cultural societies and clubs. The most prominent of these include the University of Canterbury Engineering Society (ENSOC), the Law Society (LAWSOC), the Commerce Society (UCom), as well as the largest non-faculty clubs such as Motosoc (Motorsports Society), BYCSOC (Backyard Cricket Society), CUBA (Canterbury University Boardriders' Association), CurrySoc, JSoc, The Gentlemen's Club, and KAOS (Killing As Organised Sport). CUSSC (Canterbury University Snow Sports Club) is the only university club in New Zealand to own a ski field lodge, located at Temple Basin Ski Field the club runs many events to raise funds for maintenance of their lodge. The University of Canterbury Drama Society (Dramasoc) achieved fame for its 1942–1969 Shakespeare productions under Dame Ngaio Marsh, but regularly performs as an active student- and alumni-run arts fixture in the small Christchurch theatre-scene. The musical theatre society, Musoc, engages in comparable activities.
One major student tradition, the Undie 500, involved an annual car-rally from Christchurch to Dunedin run by ENSOC. The rules required only the use of a road-legal car costing under $500 with a sober driver. The 2007 event gained international news coverage (including on CNN and BBC World) when it ended in rioting in the student quarter of Dunedin and in North East Valley. ENSOC cancelled the planned 2008 event. The Undie 500 was replaced by the Roundie 500 in 2011. This event has the same principles but follows a route through rural Canterbury, returning to Christchurch the same day.
What makes UC unique
UC has something for everyone, with flexible degrees, a world-standard curriculum and over 85 subject areas to choose from. We’ll help you discover your passion and reach your full potential.
Vibrant student community
At UC your education doesn't end at the lecture theatre door. Join a community where you can be who you are and do what you love. You will live and learn among inspiring and talented people from a range of backgrounds.
Get outdoors in Canterbury
Canterbury is made for outdoor recreation – bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Alps, the region is packed with rolling hills, mountains and waterways. There is something for every adrenaline level.