• Otago clocktower. Photo credit: University of OtagoOtago clocktower. Photo credit: University of Otago
  • Working in the Mellor laboratories. Photo credit: University of OtagoWorking in the Mellor laboratories. Photo credit: University of Otago
  • Business School. Photo credit: University of OtagoBusiness School. Photo credit: University of Otago
  • Students at the University of Otago. Photo credit: University of OtagoStudents at the University of Otago. Photo credit: University of Otago

Established as New Zealand’s first university in 1869, today Otago is ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world (QS World Rankings). Academic excellence from a research-led perspective is what drives Otago, but it is a combination of unique factors – the surrounding environment, student culture and atmosphere that really makes Otago stand out. Its location is perfect for experiencing the extraordinary scenery and outdoor adventures that New Zealand is world-famous for.

Why Otago?

The University is in Dunedin, a city with a population of 120,000; 21,000 of whom are Otago students. The campus is compact, with a vibrant student culture, and everything is close – most accommodation is within a ten minute walk of campus and the city centre is 15 minutes’ walk away. Otago is a friendly, supportive, accessible university with over 150 student clubs and societies and a state-of-the-art student recreation centre (Unipol).

The natural environment

The beauty of Dunedin’s natural environment has to be seen to be believed. Dunedin Harbour is a popular place for kayaking, rowing, wind-surfing, fishing and yachting. While surfing at some of New Zealand’s most renowned breaks you’ll find yourself in the company of endemic and often rare species like the New Zealand Sea Lion and the Yellow Eyed Penguin. Southern Right Whales and orca can be seen travelling up the coastline or even entering the harbour. Bike tracks and tramping routes are dotted throughout and around the city.

Undergraduate students

Otago has a unique student demographic compared with other universities in New Zealand. Some 85% of students come from outside Dunedin. To provide them with accommodation and support, Dunedin has a strong residential college system: Fifteen colleges (one reserved for postgraduate students), each with their own distinctive identity, history and traditions (some dating back to the 19th century), provide an environment that allows students to develop their independence and build social networks. Many international students choose to enrich their experience at Otago by living in a Uni Flat (house) with a Kiwi host as a flatmate.

The University of Otago offers bachelor degrees in arts and humanities; law; applied science; medicine; biomedical science; business; dentistry; oral health; pharmacy; medical laboratory science; physiotherapy; music; physical education; theology; sciences; surveying and teaching.

Postgraduate students

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 are also accessible and friendly.

Postgraduate qualifications are offered in all the subjects listed above. There are also specialist programmes in health sciences; entrepreneurship; tourism; science communication (including natural history filmmaking); wildlife management; MBA; international studies; peace and conflict studies; data science and bio-engineering.

Otago at a glance

  • New Zealand’s first university, celebrating 150 years in 2019
  • Ranked in the top 1% in the world by QS World Rankings
  • 95% of Otago graduates go in to work or on to further study
  • Rated top in New Zealand for international student experience (International Student Barometer 2017)
  • Unrivalled record in the national teaching awards excellence awards: 7 supreme award wins
  • Highest possible international quality QS rating of 5-stars-plus
  • The Dunedin campus is ranked one of the 15 most beautiful campuses in the world.

Why study at the University of Otago?

1 We encourage, attract and foster independence

85% of our NZ students come from outside Dunedin to study here, so most students live with their peers in shared accommodation. Our study is self-directed and interactive, with many opportunities for hands-on learning outside of the classroom. You have input into what you study – it is your degree, and your choice.

2 Otago graduates are globally employable

We have a reputation for producing well-rounded, practical, adaptable and resilient students. Our students don’t just focus on academic pursuits, they learn life skills, creative thinking, problem solving, relationship and team dynamics. Outside of study they are involved in a range of sporting, cultural and community based activities during their time here.

3 Individuality

At Otago we believe everybody is an individual, and we provide the support, service and teaching style to reflect that. Many Otago degrees can be tailor-made to suit, with a mix of subjects that may not commonly be put together. Our academic and student support staff understand this individuality factor and offer different and accessible solutions to every student. No two people are the same, and our approach reflects that.

4 Manaakitanga

Loosely translated as hospitality, ‘manaakitanga’ plays a key role in Maori and New Zealand society, but its meaning is broader than this. It is the importance of openly and warmly welcoming visitors, of having mutual respect for one another. There is a warmth to this concept that is difficult to translate, but guests are treated as equals and the meeting should leave everybody involved with feelings of fondness and appreciation.

5 Adventure

Those who live in the south of the South Island are spoilt for choice when it comes to natural beauty and access to the great outdoors. Dunedin is surrounded by forest-covered hills, trails to explore, beaches, incredible wildlife and a beautiful natural harbour. A short, two-hour drive will take you to Central Otago – including Wanaka and Queenstown for skiing and snowboarding in the winter – or you could grab your surfboard and get up close to nature in the Catlins area.

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