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Canterbury is an attractive and historic city in in the southeast of England, around 50 miles from London. In addition to famous heritage sites that attract large numbers of international tourists, Canterbury’s three universities have around 40,000 resident students.
With architectural features and heritage sites from a range of periods, Canterbury is one of the most historic cities in England. Following the murder of St Thomas Beckett, its cathedral became a major site of medieval pilgrimage, a tradition celebrated in one of the earliest great works of English literature, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
This practice helped enrich Canterbury, which also featured a range of other important religious sites and buildings, ranging from the remains of St Augustine’s Abbey (the first to be constructed in England) to several friaries associated with different monkish orders.
Much of this heritage is carefully preserved within the city, including cobbled shopping areas as well as Canterbury’s sole surviving medieval gate, the Westgate, through which traffic still enters the city centre (few postgraduate study destinations allow you to watch a double-decker bus pass through a 14th-century stone gate).
This exceptional heritage, together with an attractive city centre and the vibrant nightlife generated by a large student population, make Canterbury is an appealing university city.
Students enjoy discounted entry to landmarks such as the cathedral and the abbey ruins, whilst many of the city’s impressive number of pubs and bars are themselves housed in historic inns that once catered to pilgrims and other visitors.
The oldest university in Canterbury is the University of Kent, situated on a large hilltop campus above the city centre. Founded in 1965, Kent is usually ranked in or around the top 50 UK universities.
The city’s other large university is Canterbury Christchurch University. Christchurch was originally founded in 1962 as a teacher training college (gaining university status in 2005) and its programmes in education are still regarded as being of particularly high quality.
Canterbury is also home to the University for the Creative Arts, a specialist institution which formed in 2005 following the merger of two art and design colleges.
Canterbury enjoys a strong economy with high levels of employment. Key sectors include higher education, tourism and retail. Canterbury also benefits from good transport links to London, which is under an hour away by train.
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