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Canterbury Christ Church University
Shield of Christ Church University Canterbury.svg
Latin: Veritas liberabit vos
Motto in English
The truth shall set you free[1]
Established2005 – gained University status
1962 – teacher training college[2]
Religious affiliation
Church of England
Academic affiliations
Universities at Medway
Cathedrals Group
ChancellorArchbishop of Canterbury, ex officio[3]
Vice-ChancellorRama Thirunamachandran
Students13,340 (2019/20)[4]
Undergraduates10,795 (2019/20)[4]
Postgraduates2,545 (2019/20)[4]
Other students
65 FE[5]
Location, ,
England, UK

51°16′47″N 1°5′21″E / 51.27972°N 1.08917°E / 51.27972; 1.08917Coordinates: 51°16′47″N 1°5′21″E / 51.27972°N 1.08917°E / 51.27972; 1.08917
Cardinal red and purple
Canterbury Christ Church University logo.svg

Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) is a public university located in Canterbury, Kent, England. Founded as a Church of England college for teacher training in 1962, it was granted university status in 2005.[6]

The university has developed rapidly since its inception in 1962 and now has around 15,000 students based at locations across Kent in Canterbury, Medway (as part of the Universities at Medway partnership) and Tunbridge Wells. As well as being Kent's largest centre of higher education for the public services – notably teacher training, health and social care and the emergency services – the university also offers academic and professional programmes, including doctorates and research degrees in the arts, humanities and social and applied sciences. The university offers a portfolio of STEM courses, including engineering and medicine, and works closely with STEM industry and businesses in the south-east. The university, in partnership with the University of Kent, opened the Kent and Medway Medical School in 2020.

Canterbury Christ Church University is a member of the Cathedrals Group (officially the Council of Church Universities and Colleges or CCUC), and of MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities in the UK.



Canterbury Christ Church College (CCCC) was founded in 1962 by the Church of England in order to meet the needs of church schools at a time of teacher shortage. Classes were originally held in the priory next to St Martin's Church. The founding principal was Frederic Mason.[7]

In 1968, the first-degree programme, the Bachelor of Education, was established as a one-year extension to the Certificate in Education. In 1976, the university launched its first non-teaching degree, a BA in Religious Studies. In the late 1980s, the college was substantially enlarged by the addition of health studies and by 1988 the university had 1500 students.[8]

University college status

In 1995, the college was awarded the authority by the Privy Council to grant its own degrees for taught courses,[9] upon which the college's name was changed to Canterbury Christ Church University College. This form of the name was adopted to avoid confusion with Christ Church, Oxford (one of the Oxford University colleges) and University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, New Zealand.

University status

The college was granted the university status in 2005, which recognised the successful delivery of degree programmes and adopted a new name, Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU).[10][11]

The Archbishop of Canterbury was later appointed, by virtue of office, as chancellor. The inauguration of the university and the installation of Rowan Williams as chancellor took place in a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral in December 2005.[10]

In 2007, the university attracted publicity due to its controversial policy forbidding civil partnership ceremonies to take place at its properties.[12] This decision by the university's governing body has since been reversed and in 2018, the university sponsored Pride Canterbury.[13][14]

In 2009, the university was granted power to award research degrees by the Privy Council.[15]

The 50th anniversary of the foundation was celebrated in September 2012,[16] with a ceremony in Canterbury Cathedral at which more than 60 surviving members of the first intake were awarded honorary Bachelor of Education degrees and the chancellor, Rowan Williams, was awarded an honorary doctorate.

In February 2013, Justin Welby became the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and became chancellor of the university. In October 2013, Rama Thirunamachandran joined the university and in March of the following year was officially installed as vice-chancellor and principal in a ceremony held at Canterbury Cathedral.


The Old Sessions House – North Holmes Road Campus
The Old Sessions House – North Holmes Road Campus

North Holmes

The university's Canterbury Campus, at North Holmes Road overseen for many years by Bursar James (Jim) Blanthorn, is built on land which was once used for orchards and domestic buildings of the adjacent St Augustine's Abbey, part of Canterbury's World Heritage Site. The campus is a low-rise development centred on a courtyard adjacent to the chapel of Christ in Majesty. The chapel roof, formed of four isosceles triangles in glass, is a distinctive local landmark.[17] The campus buildings are largely named after former Archbishops of Canterbury.[18]

The North Holmes site falls within the St Augustine Abbey element of the Canterbury UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) (the WHS also includes Canterbury Cathedral and St Martin's Church). The university includes an orchard containing local varieties of apple, a physic garden, and the growing of hops that are used to produce an annual brew of green hop beer.

The nearby Grade II listed[19] former church of St Gregory, has been developed as a performance space for the university's choirs and musical ensembles. Most of these performances are open to the public.[20]

In addition to its main Canterbury Campus, the university occupies other sites around the city including Christ Church Sports Centre, Augustine House and the St George's Centre.

Christ Church Sports Centre

In 2009 the university built Christ Church Sports Centre which houses health and fitness facilities for students and staff.[21] The centre includes facilities for a variety of sports including cricket, volleyball, badminton, football and netball, an exercise studio, a climbing wall and a gym. The university was used as preparation grounds by the national team of Puerto Rico at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

St George's Centre

The St George's Centre opened at the beginning of the 2012 academic year. This incorporates the students' union facilities, bars and accommodation for 200 students.

Recent developments at the Canterbury campus

Following the university's purchase of the former Canterbury Prison[22] site in April 2014, the university undertook a review of its entire estate to ensure that it was able to meet the university's strategic and academic vision.

In April 2017, Canterbury City Council approved the university's plans for a new arts building on the North Holmes Campus. Named Daphne Oram, the building officially opened in 2019, and provides a creative arts facilities and exhibition space.

Plans for a new building for science, engineering, technology and health were approved in December 2017. The building project was awarded over £6m of government funding along with £7m of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The new building, named the Verena Holmes Building, opened in January 2021 and is home to the university's Kent and Medway Engineering, Design, Growth and Enterprise (EDGE) Hub and new courses in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Product Design and Software Engineering. It also provides teaching space for the Kent and Medway Medical School – a joint initiative with the University of Kent, which opened in 2020.


The Medway campus opened in October 2004 as part of the Universities at Medway partnership, which includes the three universities; Canterbury Christ Church University, the University of Kent and the University of Greenwich.

Programmes in health, social care and early years are provided here. The campus is home to the university's Centre for Health and Social Care and has been equipped with a mixture of teaching space, specialist facilities and staff offices. The two buildings on this campus are Rowan Williams Court (RWC),[23] and Cathedral Court.

Students and staff also have access to the re-furbished Drill Hall Library, which has been created in the former Royal Engineers Drill Hall, and is used by all students from the Universities at Medway partnership.

Tunbridge Wells

The university's Salomons Institute for Applied Psychology is based at Meadow Road, in the centre of Tunbridge Wells. This offers postgraduate clinical psychology programmes including a doctorate in clinical psychology and a PhD in professional practice. It also provides training for local NHS Trusts.

It was formerly based at the Salomons Estate and moved to its present location in October 2017 with comedian, and former psychiatric nurse, Jo Brand officially opening the building.[24]

Academic profile


The university has a diverse range of partnerships, which fall into five main categories:


The university's research was recognised in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which classed nearly 90% of its research as world-leading or internationally significant.[26]


In June 2017, the university was awarded a silver rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework. In its citation, the assessment panel said that the university ‘consistently exceeds rigorous national quality requirements for UK higher education’ and delivers ‘high-quality teaching, learning and outcomes for its students’.[27] A report published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2016 stated that the university was in the top 20 for the percentage of teaching staff holding a teaching qualification.[28]


Sustainability is a key priority for the university and is one of the cross-cutting themes of the university's strategic framework (2015 to 2020). In May 2018, the university won a prestigious International Green Gown Award for "Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change" in recognition of its commitment to sustainability and its progress in this area.[29] In 2019, this was followed by the university's Zulfi Ali winning the Green Gown award for individual Sustainability Champion.[30]

Between 2010 and 2016, the university reduced its gas and electricity consumption by almost 25%. In 2013, it became one of the first universities to commit to and achieve ‘zero waste to landfill’ and it also achieved ISO14001 certification for its Environmental Management System. It became one of the first universities to achieve the new standard in 2017.[citation needed]

In 2022, the university opened the Academy for Sustainable Futures, a collective entity to drive forward the university’s commitments to sustainability.

Governance and structure

The university is governed by its Governing Body comprising 18 elected, appointed and co-opted members. The Governing Body meets four times per year. The day-to-day management of the university is the responsibility of the Vice-Chancellor and his senior management team.

Canterbury Christ Church is organised into academic faculties that contain schools and centres for teaching and research as well as professional service departments that provide central services

The three academic faculties are:

Rankings and reputation

National rankings
Complete (2023)[31]117
Guardian (2023)[32]108
Times / Sunday Times (2022)[33]111

In the 2015 Guardian rating of UK universities, CCCU has ranked the 92nd university out of 119, a gain of 12 places from 2014.[34] However, it fell to 101 in the 2016 rankings.[35]

Student life

Students' union

Canterbury Christ Church Students’ Union is based at the St George's Centre in Canterbury. It is a registered charity whose role is to support and represent students studying at Christ Church. It offers a range of support and advice services and runs campaigns throughout the academic to promote student health and wellbeing, sustainability and equality and diversity.

Christ Church Students' Union also supports over 100 student-led clubs and societies including societies related to courses offered at the university along with cultural, political, recreational and sports societies.

Canterbury Varsity

Each year, for over 20 years, the sports clubs at Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent go head to head in Canterbury Varsity. Varsity sports include football, rugby, lacrosse, netball, volleyball, swimming, dance, basketball, hockey, tennis and many more.

Student media

CSR, the Community and Student Radio Station, starting broadcasting in 2007. The station holds a Community FM licence and it was the first student-led community radio station to be award this licence. The station broadcasts shows 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from two studios, one based at the university’s Canterbury Campus and another at the University of Kent. CSR won Best Station Sound at the 2021 Student Radio Awards.

Unified is the university's student news outlet. In 2017 it won the Best Development in the South of England Award from the Student Publication Association.[36]

Notable alumni

See also


  1. ^ a b "10 things You Didn't Know About Canterbury Christ Church University". Kettle Mag. 24 January 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  2. ^ Logistics & Supply Chain Education
  3. ^ "Archbishop installed as first Chancellor". Canterbury Christ Church University. 12 December 2005. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  4. ^ a b c "Where do HE students study?". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Table 0a – All students by institution, mode of study, level of study, gender and domicile 2009/10" (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  6. ^ Watson, Nigel (2007). Canterbury Christ Church University: The First Forty-Five Years. London: James and James (Publishers) Ltd. p. 8. ISBN 9781903942826.
  7. ^ Watson, Nigel (2007). Canterbury Christ Church University: The First Forty-Five Years. London: James and James (Publishers) Ltd. pp. 14–21. ISBN 9781903942826.
  8. ^ Watson, Nigel (2007). Canterbury Christ Church University: The First Forty-Five Years. James and James (Publishers) Ltd. pp. 52–53.
  9. ^ MacLeod, Donald (22 March 2005). "Colleges to gain university status". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  10. ^ a b Watson, Nigel (2007). Canterbury Christ Church University: The First Forty-Five Years. James and James (Publishers) Ltd. p. 110.
  11. ^ Merry, Louise (20 June 2011). "Canterbury Christ Church University guide". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  12. ^ "BBC News: University in 'gay weddings' row". 1 February 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2007.
  13. ^ "Pride Canterbury". Pride Canterbury.
  14. ^ "BBC News: University accepts 'gay weddings'". 28 March 2007. Retrieved 3 May 2007.
  15. ^ "Colleges to gain university status". The Guardian. 22 March 2005.
  16. ^ "Christ Church celebrates Golden Jubilee with a worldwide audience". Canterbury Christ Church University.
  17. ^ Watson, Nigel (2007). Canterbury Christ Church University: The First Forty-Five Years. James and James (Publishers) Ltd. pp. 22–23.
  18. ^ Watson, Nigel (2007). Canterbury Christ Church University: The First Forty-Five Years. James and James (Publishers) Ltd. p. 18.
  19. ^ "Christ Church University Music Centre (Former Church of St Gregory the Great), Canterbury". Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  20. ^ "Christchurch University St Gregorys Church". Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  21. ^ "Canterbury Christ Church Sports Centre". Canterbury Christ Church University.
  22. ^ "Former Canterbury prison bought by university". BBC News.
  23. ^ "Archbishop opens £5m lecture site". BBC. 25 October 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Jo Brand opens new Applied Psychology unit at Canterbury Christ Church University, Tunbridge Wells". KentOnline. 5 October 2017.
  25. ^ "Festival Brochure". Canterbury Festival. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  26. ^ "REF2014". REF2014.
  27. ^ "Office for Students". Office for Students. 13 February 2018.
  28. ^ "Report". Higher Education Funding Council for England. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 1 August 2020.[clarification needed]
  29. ^ "Green Gown Awards UK & Ireland - 2017 Winners". Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  30. ^ "Green Gown Awards UK & Ireland - 2019 Winners". Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  31. ^ "Complete University Guide 2023". The Complete University Guide. 5 July 2022.
  32. ^ "Guardian University Guide 2023". The Guardian. 24 September 2022.
  33. ^ "Good University Guide 2023". The Times. 17 September 2022.
  34. ^ Guardian rating of UK universities
  35. ^ "University league tables 2016".
  36. ^ "Student Publication Association". Student Publication Association.