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Universities in Christchurch, New Zealand

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Christchurch is located on the coast of New Zealand's South Island, and boasts some incredible scenery.

Christchurch is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island with a population of nearly 400,000 residents. Christchurch is a major centre for several key industries including agriculture, electronics manufacturing and tourism, and is also a starting point for many exploration and research project teams headed to Antarctica.

Christchurch is a truly cosmopolitan city with the presence of many nationalities – nearly 27% of the city population is foreign-born. This ensures that you will always feel welcomed in Christchurch and you can confidently enjoy the world-class tourism, culture, food and entertainment that the city and its surrounding regions have to offer.

Top Universities in Christchurch

University of Otago

The University of Otago is New Zealand’s oldest university, established in 1869. Today, the university is home to nearly 20,000 enrolled students, of which approximately 4,000 are international students. Although the primary university campus is located four hours south of Christchurch in the town of Dunedin, the University of Otago also operates satellite campuses in Christchurch as well as Wellington. 

Otago offers nearly 150 degree programmes for international students, including a large variety of postgraduate study programmes. Dunedin is a vibrant and youthful town where students can pursue world-class academics while living in a scenic and focused small-town environment. 

The University of Otago is well-known for its strength in research and innovation, as well as a wide range of subject specialisations. Eleven of the subject areas taught by the university feature in the top 100 worldwide on the QS World University Rankings by subject. Additionally, the university’s Otago Business School is one of less than 100 universities globally to hold dual EQUIS and AACSB accreditation.

University of Canterbury

Founded in 1872, the University of Canterbury hosts 15,000 students with a large population of international students comprising nearly 25% of the overall enrolment. The university operates on three campuses spread across Christchurch, with its primary 190-acre campus located in Ilam suburb just 5 miles from downtown Christchurch.

The University of Canterbury places special focus on both an international outlook as well as a constant and deep connection with New Zealand’s tribal Maori community. Having received a 5-Star QS ranking for internationally renowned research and teaching, the university offers award-winning academic teaching and cutting-edge research facilities for international students.

The University of Canterbury’s current research strengths include disaster preparedness strategies, sustainable futures and child development projects. Additionally, the university maintains close ties with leading employers in New Zealand, and offers excellent support to international students in locating ideal post-graduation employment and summer internships.

Lincoln University

Originally established as a school of agriculture in 1878, Lincoln University specialises in agricultural and land-management subjects as well as food science. Each of the university’s faculties offer curriculums designed around agriculture and food-based subject areas. The Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce, for instance, offers programmes for studying sustainable and successful agricultural business practices. Meanwhile, Lincoln University also operates a 2,200-acre farm where international students can gain valuable practical experience. 

The primary Lincoln University campus is a 143-acre facility on the outskirts of Christchurch. Lincoln is home to just under 3,000 enrolled students, and has an exceptionally high proportion of international students who form nearly 50% of the enrollment. The small class sizes mean greater attention from award-winning faculty, as well as more vocational experience for students, and these factors combine to make the university one of the world’s leading climate and agriculture-focused universities. 

Christchurch Universities World Ranking 2024

Below are the top-ranked Christchurch universities for international students, with their ranks in two of the world’s most well-respected international university rankings, the QS 2024 University World rankings and the Times Higher Education 2024 Rankings.

For more information about rankings systems and methodologies see our University rankings explained guide.

UniversityQS World Ranking 2024Times Higher Education Ranking 2024QS Rank in New ZealandTHE Rank in New Zealand
University of Otago206301-35022
University of Canterbury=256501-6006=4
Lincoln University=362401-5007=3

List of other top-ranked Colleges & Universities in Christchurch

Alongside the three best universities for international students in and around Christchurch, the city also offers multiple world-class institutes and universities with subject specialisations such as technology and engineering. A few such institutes for international students in and around Christchurch are:

Tuition and Living Costs in Christchurch

According to the New Zealand Government, undergraduate degrees for international students cost between 15,000 and 22,000 US Dollars per annum. Courses are usually 3 years in length, and certain programmes such as healthcare degrees may cost slightly more. 

For postgraduate degrees, international students should expect a tuition fee of between 17,000 and 25,000 US Dollars per annum. But international students pursuing PhD courses need to pay only 4,500-6,000 US Dollars per annum, the same amount as domestic students.

When it comes to living costs, the University of Canterbury estimates that international students should budget between 900-1,000 US Dollars every month. This figure includes 500-600 US Dollars for shared accommodation, 250-300 US Dollars for food expenses, 20-30 US Dollars for transport and another 80-100 US Dollars for entertainment and miscellaneous expenses.

Life in Christchurch for International Students

Christchurch is conveniently located near several world-famous tourist destinations including the Southern Alps mountain range, where international students can travel to explore the scenic mountains and ski slopes. Moreover, the city itself is filled with cultural and historical venues, as well as outdoor areas and adventure parks for you to enjoy during your time away from the classroom.

Below are a few of Christchurch’s must-visit destinations for international students:

  • Christchurch Botanic Gardens
  • International Antarctic Centre
  • Canterbury Museum
  • Orana Wildlife Park
  • Christchurch Gondola
  • Christchurch Art Gallery
  • Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
  • Hagley Park North
  • Air Force Museum of New Zealand
  • Christchurch Adventure Park
  • Sumner Beach
  • Christchurch Casino
  • Centre of Contemporary Art
  • Bridge of Remembrance
  • New Brighton Beach

International students can comfortably travel to Christchurch from their home countries through flights via Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, as well as Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island.

You can make weekend trips to explore scenic New Zealand and its major cities such as Wellington, which is under an hour away from Christchurch by flight. International students can also travel to explore major Australian cities including Sydney and Canberra, which are about 3 to 4 hours away by flight from Christchurch.

The high-quality urban facilities, high living standards, and welcoming nature of Christchurch residents will surely appeal to all international students interested in a world-class education.

See all universities in New Zealand.

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