Founded in 1869, the University of Otago is New Zealand’s oldest university. Well known for its exceptional schools of Science, Health Sciences, Humanities and Commerce, its historic campus is filled with original stone buildings giving it the feel of a traditional English university.
Otago University’s attractive historic campus successfully combines the old with the new, and is ideally situated in the heart of Dunedin city. Making up nearly 20% of Dunedin’s population, the famous University campus lifestyle is a draw-card for many students.One of the main institutions of the southern town of Dunedin, Otago University is a “research-led learning environment” filled with a sense of heritage, prestige and activity.
Most days of the week during the academic year the campus will be crowded with students originating from all over New Zealand and around the world, though visitors are welcome to wander around the grounds to take in some of the famous architecture and attend any student performances that might be going on. There is also an onsite clothing and gift shop along with a bar, restaurant and food court café.
Back in 1869 one hundred thousand acres of pastoral land was set aside with the intent to establish the very first university in New Zealand. The University of Otago as it is now known was subsequently authorised to grant educational degrees in Arts, Medicine, Law and Music when it opened on the 5 July 1871.
Originally housed in a building on Princes Street, the University moved to the Maxwell Bury’s Clocktower and Geology buildings in 1878 and 1879. These original buildings now make up the heart of the present day Dunedin campus. Various new faculties were developed over the years which included Dentistry, Home Science, Accountancy, Theology and Physical Education.
The University of Otago awarded the first woman in Australasia, Ethel Benjamin, a law degree in 1897. She later went on to be the first woman in the British Empire to appear as counsel in a court of law.
A variety of student accommodation options are available to suit different requirements. There are fifteen affiliated Residential College accommodation facilities which offer catered and non-catered services, single or double rooms and shared or ensuite bathrooms.
All of the Residential Colleges are dotted around the University within easy walking distance. Some options are specifically designed for graduate and post graduate students while others are aimed at international students.
Rental accommodation is also available in the wider community, with a wide range of rental homes, studios and rooms in flats available. Flatters usually have the option of either partly furnished or unfurnished rooms. Flats will generally include curtains, floor coverings, a stove and sometimes a fridge and washing machine.
The majority of houses in Dunedin use electric heaters or wood burners as methods of heating, central heating is not common. Flatting requires the students to be responsible for all of the household bills and expenses. See here for more information on the costs of flatting and flatting in New Zealand.
The University of Otago has its main campus located in Dunedin but also operates several satellite campuses across New Zealand.
The University of Otago provides students with an array of academic and personal support services, some of these include:
As well as the above facilities the University provides excellent support for international students. Aimed at providing information, support and advice to future or current international students the University runs pre-arrival information, campus orientation, student visa and immigration requirements, accommodation assistance and support with seeking insurance and US Financial Aid.
The university is currently divided into four academic divisions: the Division of Humanities, the Division of Health Sciences, the Division of Sciences and the School of Business, these include the following areas of study.
The Otago University is lucky enough to have its very own book store providing a diverse selection of books including the required student and academic textbooks as well as popular titles, specialised items, and children’s books. Otago University Student Textbook requirements are published on the website, with in-store collections covering Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy, the Sciences, Law, Commerce and the Humanities.
While the flagship store is located on 378 Great King Street, Dunedin North, next to the Post Office, there is also an on-campus store, ‘UBS On Campus’ located at the OUSA Archway, 640 Cumberland Street, Dunedin North.
The University Book Shop regularly hosts book launches and author events, live poetry readings, play and book readings. For up to date information on University Book Shop upcoming events see the website.
Operating independently of the Otago University, the OUSA provides members with representation, welfare, advocacy, recreation and media resources as well as organising some really fun social events.
The OUSA’s Student Support Centre situated at 5 Ethel Benjamin Place provides free, confidential, and friendly services to assist with all aspects of student life and living in Dunedin. The OUSA can help with emergency food supplies, flatting advice, lost property, clubs, local business specials and much more.
OUSA membership is provided free to University of Otago students, however, there is the option to remove yourself from the membership by requesting to “opt out”.
The top Rugby Football club in Dunedin, the OURFC has had more players go on to become All Blacks than any other rugby club in New Zealand. Out of these, more recent names include Taine Randell, Anton Oliver and Josh Kronfeld.
Affiliated with the Otago University Student Association, the OURFC is a student orientated club, with many players actively involved in the day to day running. Registration information, pre-season training and coach information is available on the website, as well as a Club Events Calendar. The OURFC is located at 20 Logan Park Drive, Dunedin.
The wide range of courses on offer at the University of Otago has attracted students from outside its provincial district and around the world, leading to the development of a vibrant student life within the city. Dunedin has an excellent array of entertainment, outdoor recreation, cafes, restaurants, arts and shopping on offer as well as some of the New Zealand’s rarest inhabitants. These include the famous penguin and fur seal colonies and the only mainland breeding colony of albatross in the world.
Need transportation to make the most of the region? View our full range of affordable Dunedin rental cars and explore the best of Dunedin, Otago and beyond at your leisure.
Check out our blog for more New Zealand travel and holiday advice.