• The University of Otago's campus. Photo credit: University of OtagoThe University of Otago's campus. Photo credit: University of Otago
  • The central library. Photo credit: University of OtagoThe central library. Photo credit: University of Otago
  • A student on graduation day. Photo credit: University of OtagoA student on graduation day. Photo credit: University of Otago
  • In a lecture theatre. Photo credit: University of OtagoIn a lecture theatre. Photo credit: University of Otago

Established as New Zealand’s first university in 1869, today the University of Otago ranks in the top 3% of universities worldwide (QS World University Rankings 2014/2015). Otago is a true destination campus where some 80% of the student population move from other regions of New Zealand and the world to Dunedin to study in this premier city of education. Academic excellence is at the fore within this vibrant community where one in six of the residents is an Otago student.

The University’s location is also perfect for exploring the amazing scenery and outdoor adventures that the South Island of New Zealand is world famous for.

Dunedin: Student city

The University of Otago is in Dunedin, a city with a population of 120,000; 20,000 of whom are students at the university. Education is the main industry of Dunedin, thus making it the true ‘student city’ of Australasia. Most student accommodation and the centre of Dunedin city is within 15 minutes' walk of campus. Students often praise this seamless connection of town and gown, and the strong sense of Otago student identity and community, as key points that enrich their experience of living in Dunedin.

The city centre of Dunedin is full of cafés, restaurants, bars, boutiques and shopping. It hosts a modern public art gallery housing one of New Zealand’s best international art collections as well as theatres, museums and libraries considered among New Zealand’s finest. Dunedin’s harbour is a popular place for kayaking, rowing, wind-surfing, fishing and yachting. Some of New Zealand’s most renowned surf breaks can be found at the local city beaches.

Undergraduate students

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 to succeed in their academic endeavours. Beyond first year, most Otago students opt to live in rented housing within easy walk of the University campus.

The University of Otago offers 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.

Postgraduate students

The University of 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.

Postgraduate qualifications are offered in all the subject areas listed above for undergraduate students. In addition, the University also offers specialist postgraduate programmes in health sciences; entrepreneurship; science communication (including natural history filmmaking); tourism; wildlife management; international studies; peace and conflict studies, post-experience business management (MBA) and indigenous studies.

Otago at a glance

  •  New Zealand’s oldest university (established in 1869)
  • Ranked in the top 3% of universities worldwide (QS World University Rankings 2014/2015)
  • Otago’s Business School holds European EQUIS accreditation
  • The Daily Telegraph has listed Otago, alongside Oxford and Cambridge, as one of the world’s 16 most beautiful universities