• Sunset on campus. Photo credit: University of OtagoSunset on campus. 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
  • Working in the Mellor laboratories. Photo credit: University of OtagoWorking in the Mellor laboratories. Photo credit: University of Otago
  • Science and innovation building. Photo credit: University of OtagoScience and innovation building. Photo credit: University of Otago
  • Business School. Photo credit: University of OtagoBusiness School. Photo credit: University of Otago
  • Otago clocktower. Photo credit: University of OtagoOtago clocktower. 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 the University, but it is a combination of unique factors, made up of the surrounding environment, student culture and atmosphere that really makes Otago stand out. 

Why Otago?

The University of Otago is in Dunedin, a city in the lower South Island with a population of 130,000; approximately 20,000 of whom are students. Education is the main industry of Dunedin, making it the true ‘student city’ of Australasia. The compact campus has a vibrant, social student culture. Everything is close – most student accommodation is within ten minute walk of campus and the centre of Dunedin is within 15 minutes’. Otago is a friendly, supportive, accessible university with over 150 student clubs and societies and a purpose built, state-of-the-art recreation centre (Unipol) that offers a great range of indoor and outdoor options for all Otago students to enjoy. 

The natural environment

The beauty surrounding Dunedin has to be seen to be believed. Dunedin Harbour is popular for kayaking, rowing, wind-surfing, fishing and yachting, or for simply pedalling your bike around the cycleway. Dunedin has been hailed as New Zealand’s wildlife capital – while surfing at renowned breaks you could find yourself among endemic, 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 coast or even in the harbour. Mountain 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: 85% of our NZ students come from outside Dunedin. To provide them with accommodation and support Dunedin has a strong residential college system. Fifteen colleges (one designated for postgraduate students), each with their own distinctive identity, history and traditions, provide an environment that gives students a great opportunity to develop their independence, build a social network and succeed in their academic endeavours. Many of our international students choose to enrich their experience by living in a University Flat with a Kiwi host as flatmate. Most student housing at Otago, including Uni Flats, is within an easy walk of campus.

The University offers bachelor degrees in applied science; arts and humanities; law; biomedical science; business; dentistry; oral health; medicine; pharmacy; music; medical lab science; physiotherapy; 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 who are not only at the cutting edge in their respective disciplines but are accessible and friendly! Postgrad qualifications are offered in all the subject areas listed above. The University also offers specialist postgraduate programmes in health sciences; entrepreneurship; tourism; science communication (including natural history filmmaking); international studies; wildlife management; peace and conflict studies, MBA; data science and bioengineering.

Otago at a glance

  • New Zealand’s first university, celebrating 150 years in 2019.

  • More than 200 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes
  • Unmatched record in the national teaching excellence awards: Seven supreme award winners
  • Our campus is listed one of the 15 most beautiful in the world
  • Our sports department is ranked 13 in the world (2020 QS World University Rankings By Subject)



Why study at the University of Otago?

1. We encourage, attract and foster independence: 85% of our domestic students come from outside of Dunedin to study here. Our study is self-directed and interactive, with many opportunities for hands on learning outside of the classroom. You have input into what study – your degree, your choice. 

2. Otago graduate attributes are globally employable: 95% of our students go into work or to further study. We have a reputation for producing well-rounded, practical, adaptable, resilient graduates. Otago students don’t just focus on academic pursuits, they learn life skills, creative thinking, problem solving and team dynamics. Outside of study they are involved in a wide range of sporting, cultural and community based activities during their time here. 

3. Individuality: We believe that everybody is an individual, and we provide support, service and a 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 support staff offer different and accessible solutions to every student. No two people are the same and our approach at Otago reflects that. 

4. Manaakitanga: Loosely translated as hospitality, the concept of ‘manaakitanga’ is key in Maori and New Zealand society, but its true meaning is broader, referring to the importance of openly and warmly welcoming visitors, of having a mutual respect for one another. There is a warmth to this concept that is difficult to translate, but guests are treated as equals, and sometimes as of greater importance than the hosts themselves – the gathering should leave everybody involved with feelings of fondness and appreciation. 

5. Adventure: Everything in Dunedin is close by – campus, accommodation and the city centre are all in walking distance. Dunedin is surrounded by forested hills and trails to explore, beaches, incredible wildlife and a beautiful natural harbour. A two-hour drive will take you to the spectacular Central Otago region – including Queenstown and Wanaka for snowsports in the winter – or you can grab a surfboard and get up close and personal with NZ nature in the Catlins area.

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