The University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) is aware that students tend not to stay around on campus if they have an alternative, such as going home or to the mall. It commissioned a study in 2013 to see how it might create a more ‘sticky’ campus that would make students choose to stay and study or socialize between and after classes. Lack of facilities surfaced as a major concern of students.


The Undercroft

While improvements have been made since then, including upgrades to the Undercroft, the situation remains that students do not have many places to hang out on campus or options for food after the cafes close. The insurance settlement was only recently finalized for the old UCSA building (unsafe after the earthquakes), and it will be years before that is rebuilt.

In its survey of the student experience, the study found that

…the student experience at UC is currently a ‘tribal’ one. That is, students identify strongly with different kinds of identity groups (such as with their faculty, their major, their ethnicity etc.). Students experience the campus in a ‘local’ manner, largely determined by these ‘tribes’. (5)

Thus if the culture in a student’s college or major is poor or they do not find a group to identify with, that student will have a higher likelihood of having a poor student experience at university. Certain groups feel they have a better culture and facilities than others, as evidenced by the responses from students in the five colleges. Law and Engineering students felt they had a strong sense of community, while Business and Arts students used words like ‘scattered’ and ‘fragmentation’ and Science students were still in the process of trying to develop more engagement. Education students were uncertain about the potential move away from the Dovedale campus (now confirmed) and what it would mean for their identity.




Carr, Rodd. 2016 January 14. “University of Canterbury faces milestone year.” Opinion in The Press.

O’Callaghan, Jody. 2015 October 2. “UCSA ‘concrete jungle’ building to be fully demolished.” The Press.

Research First. 2013 June 18. “University of Canterbury Students’ Association: Increasing the ‘Stickiness’ of the Campus.” http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/media/documents/reports/ucsa-campus-development-report.pdf