Established as New Zealand’s first university in 1869, today the University of Otago is ranked among the world’s best by the QS World University Rankings 2018.
Academic excellence from a research-led perspective is what drives Otago, but it is a combination of unique factors around the surrounding environment, student culture and atmosphere that really makes Otago stand out.
The University of Otago is located in Dunedin, a city in the lower South Island with a population of 120,000; approximately 20,000 of whom are students at the University. Education is the main industry of Dunedin, making it the true ‘student city’ of Australasia. The campus is compact, with a vibrant, social student culture, and the University is effectively
a student town situated within Dunedin city. Everything is close by – most student accommodation is within a two to ten minute walk of campus and the centre of Dunedin is within 15 minutes’ walk of campus.
Otago is a friendly, supportive and accessible university with over 150 student clubs and societies and a purpose-built, state-of-the-art recreation centre (Unipol) that offers a range of indoor and outdoor recreational options for Otago students to enjoy.
The natural environment
The University’s location is perfect for weekends spent exploring the extraordinary scenery and outdoor adventures that the South Island of New Zealand is world famous for.
The beauty of the natural environment surrounding Dunedin has to be seen to be believed. The Otago Harbour is a popular place for kayaking, rowing, wind-surfing, fishing and yachting. And there is very good reason that Dunedin has been hailed as the wildlife capital of New Zealand – while surfing at some of New Zealand’s most renowned surf breaks you will find yourself in the company of endemic and sometimes rare species like the New Zealand sea lion and the yellow-eyed penguin. Southern right whales and orca can be seen travelling up the surrounding coastline and even entering the harbour. Mountain bike tracks, tramping and walking routes are dotted throughout and around the city and the surrounding bush-clad hills are full of the sounds and sights of beautiful New Zealand birdlife.
The University of Otago has a unique student demographic compared with other universities in New Zealand in that the vast majority of Otago students (80%) come from outside the local area. To provide accommodation and support for these students Dunedin has a strong residential college system.
Fourteen colleges, each with their own distinctive identity, history and traditions (some dating back to the 19th century), provide an environment that gives new students a great opportunity to develop their independence, build a social network and succeed in their academic endeavours. Another unique aspect of living at Otago is that many international students choose to enrich their experience by living in a University Flat (commonly referred to on campus as Uni Flats) with a Kiwi student host as a flatmate.
Most student accommodation at Otago, including Uni Flats, is located within a short, easy walk of campus.
The University of Otago offers undergraduate (bachelor) degrees in the areas of applied science; medicine; law; arts and humanities; biomedical science; business; dentistry; oral health; pharmacy; music; medical laboratory science; physiotherapy; physical education; theology; sciences; surveying and teaching.
Otago is a research-led university. Research supervision for masters and PhD students is provided by academic staff members who are at the cutting edge of research in their respective disciplines but who are accessible and friendly.
Postgraduate qualifications are offered in all the subject areas listed for undergraduate students. The University also offers specialist postgraduate programmes in health sciences; science communication (including natural history filmmaking); entrepreneurship; tourism; wildlife management; international studies; peace and conflict studies, post-experience business management (MBA) business data science and bioengineering.