Canterbury Christ Church University

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Canterbury Christ Church University
Crest of Canterbury Christ Church University.jpg
Latin: Veritas liberabit vos
Motto in English
The truth shall set you free [1]
Type Public
Established2005 – gained University status
1962 – teacher training college [2]
Affiliation Church of England
Chancellor Archbishop of Canterbury, ex officio [3]
Vice-Chancellor Rama Thirunamachandran
Students13,340 (2019/20) [4]
Undergraduates 10,795 (2019/20) [4]
Postgraduates 2,545 (2019/20) [4]
Other students
65 FE [5]
Location, ,

51°16′47″N1°5′21″E / 51.27972°N 1.08917°E / 51.27972; 1.08917 Coordinates: 51°16′47″N1°5′21″E / 51.27972°N 1.08917°E / 51.27972; 1.08917
Colours Cardinal Red and Purple
Affiliations Universities at Medway
Cathedrals Group
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 is also developing its portfolio of STEM courses, including engineering and medicine. The university is working with industry and businesses in the south-east to develop its STEM courses and is working in partnership with the University of Kent on the development of the medical school.

Canterbury Christ Church University is a member of the Cathedrals Group (officially the Council of Church Universities and Colleges or CCUC).



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 the Revd 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 Canterbury Christ Church University - - 984484.jpg
The Old Sessions House – North Holmes Road Campus
Hall Place Enterprise Centre Hall Place Enterprise Centre - - 1588412.jpg
Hall Place Enterprise Centre

North Holmes

The University's Canterbury Campus, at North Holmes Road, 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 Sidney Cooper Gallery, Hall Place Enterprise Centre, Christ Church Sports Centre, Augustine House and the St George's Centre.

In 2000, Canterbury Christ Church acquired the lease of the Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury city centre, originally established as an art school by the noted cattle painter Thomas Sidney Cooper in 1868. Art students moved into the building in December 2002, taking it back to its original use as an art school. In 2004, the refurbished gallery space opened to the public. The gallery exhibits staff and student work, as well as work by local, national and international artists.

Hall Place

Hall Place, a 16th-century building in Harbledown, has been renovated and renamed Hall Place Enterprise Centre. It is home to the Centre for Enterprise and Business Development, used for business support and access to academic resources and training programmes for small businesses.

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.

Planned 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.

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. [23] The new building is due to open in 2020 and will be 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 will also provide teaching space for the new Kent and Medway Medical School – a joint initiative with the University of Kent. The medical school is also due to open 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), [24] 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.


The Broadstairs campus is now closed; all courses have transferred to the Canterbury Campus. [25]

Meadow Road, Tunbridge Wells

The university's Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology is based at Meadow Road, in the centre of Tunbridge Wells.

Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology 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.

The centre was formerly based at the Salomons Estate in Tunbridge and moved to its present location in October 2017 with comedian, and former psychiatric nurse, Jo Brand officially opening the building. [26]

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. [28]


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’. [29] 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. [30]


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. [31] In 2019, this was followed by the University's Zulfi Ali winning the Green Gown award for individual Sustainability Champion. [32]

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 ]

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 four academic faculties are:

Rankings and reputation

National rankings
Complete (2021) [33] 117
Guardian (2021) [34] 108
Times / Sunday Times (2021) [35] 111
Global rankings
British Government assessment
Teaching Excellence Framework [36] Silver

In the 2015 Guardian rating of UK universities, CCCU has ranked the 92nd university out of 119, a gain of 12 places from 2014. [37] However, it fell to 101 in the 2016 rankings. [38]

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. In 2018, Varsity sports included football, rugby, lacrosse, netball, volleyball, badminton, swimming, dance, basketball, hockey, tennis and trampolining.

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. [39] The station broadcasts shows 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from two studios, one based at Canterbury Christ Church University's Canterbury Campus and another at the University of Kent.

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. [40]

Notable alumni

See also

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