Unique UC - what makes us different?
Sense of history and place
Haere whakamuri ki roto a nga wa ki mua.
Pride in our past makes us confident of our future.
The special character of the University of Canterbury (UC) is reflected most clearly in its sense of history and place, its strong research culture and its single, multi-purpose city campus. Reflecting historical Oxbridge roots, UC is a traditional university that embraces and emphasises academic excellence and takes pride in its strong research culture and in the inspirational output of many of its research staff and students. Proud of its past, the university nevertheless looks to the future with vision and resolve to blend the best of Canterbury tradition with the innovation and creativity necessary for success and relevance in a changing world.
As the second oldest of New Zealand's universities, the University of Canterbury has a historical heritage that is unsurpassed. By 1890, barely 17 years after its founding, Canterbury College boasted academics, course offerings and degrees in science, engineering, law, the humanities and fine arts. UC has one of the oldest Engineering departments in the world, the oldest Fine Arts department in the British Commonwealth and a library dating back to 1879. Books for the original library were donated by the University of Oxford and significant connections with Oxford and Cambridge still remain. Connections with some of Canterbury's most notable alumni also date from these early years and include Sir Ernest Rutherford, Julius Von Haast, John Angus Erskine, James Hight, John Macmillan Brown, Sir Apirana Ngata and Helen Connon - the first woman to graduate with honours in what was then the British Empire.
Historically, Christchurch was a significant player in the original land-based economy and society of New Zealand. At the time when provincial government was ending in New Zealand, Canterbury College was endowed with significant tracts of land in the South Island's high country. This land passed in due course to the university and provided an ongoing focus for research and teaching related to the nature and sustainable use of high country land.
Complementing this historical legacy, key aspects of UC's distinctiveness also derive from its location. Christchurch is New Zealand's oldest city and the South Island's largest. The Canterbury region contains half of the population of the South Island and will be its major growth area for the foreseeable future both in population and economic terms.
Christchurch is thus large enough to be a significant player regionally and nationally in business, commerce, politics and the arts and yet not so large that staff and students of the university cannot feature prominently in these. Canterbury is unique in this regard among New Zealand universities. Because of the nature, extent and quality of its networks, endowments and reputation, the university provides for its staff, students and visiting scholars a point of significant connection to the region as well as a conduit to the nation and a springboard to the world. This, combined with the quality of lifestyle, facilities and education on offer at UC, is what proves to be attractive to so many.
Strong research culture
The University of Canterbury is a place where scholarship is valued, where teaching and learning are strongly linked to research and where staff, students and visiting scholars work within a strong research culture. This is reflected in the specialist focus of many of its research centres and also in the excellence of its laboratories, equipment and infrastructure, especially its libraries.
A distinctive characteristic of UC is the way in which teaching and research are enhanced through use of a network of field stations. These include field stations at Kaikoura, Cass, Westport and Harihari, used primarily for teaching and research in biological and earth sciences; the sub-Antarctic Snares Islands and Antarctica used by Biological Sciences and Gateway Antarctica; and New Zealand's premier astronomical research facility at Mount John, Tekapo.