The University of Otago, established in 1869, is New Zealand’s oldest university. Otago is ranked in the Top 130 universities in the world by the 2011 QS Ranking of World Universities and has been ranked as New Zealand’s top university for research quality and intensity. The university has collaboration and student exchange agreements with over 90 institutions worldwide.
Dunedin is the compact city in which the University of Otago is located, a city which is very unique within Australasia in that the university is intrinsically linked with the cities identity and economy, more than one sixth of the city’s population are university students and the campus is located just a few blocks from the city center and student housing. Otago is renowned for its close-knit student community and vibrant campus lifestyle. The vast majority of students live in houses or apartments within the main student neighborhoods, all of which are within 15 minutes’ walk of the campus and key facilities, including Dunedin’s newly completed 30,000 seat covered stadium and adjoining university gym.
The University takes its name from the province, Otago, of which Dunedin is its principal city. Dunedin (population 120,000) offers students the best of both worlds. It has all the facilities, entertainment and variety of larger cities, but is small enough to be friendly, intimate, and uncrowded. Dunedin is also an excellent gateway to Central Otago and Fiordland where opportunities abound for hiking, skiing, water sports, adventure tourism (including bungy-jumping), or admiring the spectacular landscapes.
The university is located in Dunedin, a city of 120,000. Dunedin is a coastal city located in the southern part of the South Island. The city has a strong Scottish character due to early immigrants from Scotland who settled in Dunedin in the 1800s. Today it is a modern city with all urban conveniences, with beautifully preserved historical buildings. The region surrounding Dunedin is well known for its natural beauty, unique wildlife, and wide variety of opportunities for outdoor recreation. The city is located on the coast, but also enjoys close proximity to the mountains (the Southern Alps). From Dunedin, access to the rest of the South Island is affordable and convenient by bus. Dunedin enjoys mild winters (average of 48-54° F) and warm summers (66-72° F). However, due to its location on the ocean, the weather can be unpredictable. Dunedin offers many fine cultural facilities, including museums, art galleries, libraries, and theaters. The city center has a number of department stores and specialty shops, as well as a wide variety of restaurants offering everything from fast food to sophisticated dining. The university and city center are within easy walking distance and most students walk or ride a bike to get around the city.
Otago is a comprehensive university offering courses in business, education, liberal studies, languages, social sciences, Māori and Indigenous studies, performing arts, natural and physical sciences, and health sciences. International students may take courses offered in most disciplines, as long as they have met course prerequisites. (There are some courses in clinical health sciences that are not generally available to international students).
The University of Otago is one of the founding members of the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU), a select international group of outstanding universities. The 7 founding partners in this network are Dartmouth College in the USA; Durham University in England; Queen’s University in Canada; University of Otago in New Zealand; University of Tübingen in Germany; University of Western Australia in Australia; and Uppsala University in Sweden.
The MNU has been established to enable the universities to enhance diversity, to share ideas and expertise, and to learn international best practice from each other, recognising the shared commitment to an ethos of excellence in research, scholarship and rounded education. Members of the MNU have come together for a range of activities, including enhanced student exchange, development of joint postgraduate programmes, social responsibility projects, research collaboration, visiting fellowships, staff exchange and secondments, benchmarking and sharing of best practice, and cultural and sporting activities. Of particular note, and in line with the theme of “Partnering for a better world”, an annual research meeting will be held with representatives from each.