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Founded in 1869, Otago is New Zealand’s first university.

Founded in 1869, Otago is New Zealand’s first university

Celebrating 150 years in 2019.


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20,814 students by headcount (18,547 EFTS).*



2,723 international students from 100 countries (13.1% of the student population).*

  • Nationwide presence: from Invercargill to Auckland.
  • More than 3,500 postgraduate students including 1,410 PhD students.*
  • 3,862 full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff.*
  • Annual revenue of $682.5 million.*
  • Estimated national annual economic impacts of almost $1.8 billion.*
  • Total assets of $1.95 billion.*
  • Ranked 169th in the 2016/17 QS world university rankings…i
  • … and in the top 100 in 12 subject areas (2017).ii
  • Five stars plus ranking from QS Stars reflects quality and excellence.ii

Research-intensive university



Three Prime Minister’s Science Prize winners (2011, 2014, 2016).














12 flagship multidisciplinary research centres and 17 research themes.v

  • $171 million in external research funding (including PBRF).*
  • 1,532 FTE academic and research-only staff.*
  • Leadership and partnership roles in national Centres of Research Excellence iv
  • Leadership and partnership roles in the New Zealand’s National Science Challenges.
  • The only university to rank in the top four in all average quality score measures, 2012 PBRF.
  • New Zealand’s leading postgraduate research university: postgraduate students enjoy a 3:1 ratio to research-active
  • Leads all New Zealand universities in the number of high-quality research papers published by the Nature group.vii
  • Hosts two of the most widely-recognised longitudinal studies in the world.vii
  • Biotechnology spin-out company Pacific Edge Limited is listed on New Zealand’s stock exchange.
  • Otago’s Hocken Collections is one of the foremost research libraries in New Zealand, with extensive collections relating to southern New Zealand, Pacific and Antarctica.

Teaching excellence




More than 195 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.


Top 10

Otago ranks among the world’s top 10 (7th in QS rankings 2017) for the study of sport and sport-related disciplines.ix

  • Four academic divisions: Humanities, Sciences, Health Sciences and Business.
  • Home of New Zealand’s first medical school…
  • …and of New Zealand’s only schools of Dentistry and Surveying.
  • Summer School and Distance Learning programmes.
  • Internationally accredited Business School: AACSB and EQUIS accreditations.
  • Tops the TEC educational performance indicators for retention of students, completion of course and progression to higher study.x
  • Unmatched record in the National Teaching Excellence Awards: Five Supreme Award winners in successive years xi and seven over the last 14 years.

Student experience


Almost 85% of students from outside Dunedin.

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Residential college

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Residential college


15 residential colleges located on or near campus, accommodating around 3,500 students.*

  • Abbey College is New Zealand’s first postgraduate residential college.xii
  • Commitment to pastoral care with extensive student services and support networks.
  • More than 140 student clubs and societies to choose from.
  • Otago teams are highly successful in business case and debating competitions in New Zealand and overseas.
  • Student surveys show overwhelming satisfaction with services provided. (98% with campus safety; 97% with sport and recreation facilities; 99% with libraries; 97% with administration and support; 97% with residential colleges).*
  • Annual academic convocation ceremony and orientation programmes for students.
  • Director of First-Year Experience helps students transition to university life.

Successful students



Otago has produced 62 Rhodes Scholars since 1904.xxi


94% of graduates go into work or on to further study.*

  • Otago has won the New Zealand Universities Rowing Championships for the past 17 years.
  • …and the senior women’s eight has been unbeaten internationally for four successive years.
  • The Otago University Rugby Football Club has produced more All Blacks than any other rugby club…
  • Otago graduates are recognised for their interpersonal and negotiating skills; their conceptual and analytical skills; and their independent judgement.xxii

Outstanding campus environments



Recognised as one of the 16 most beautiful campuses in the world.xiii




Campus Watch teams on duty 24/7.

  • Main campus is in Dunedin, with specialist campuses in Wellington, Christchurch and Invercargill.
  • Commitment to a $650 million building programme over the next 15 years.xiv
  • “Green teams” promote sustainability across campuses.
  • 98% of students provided a positive assessment of the general campus environment.*

Commitment to Maori and Pacific development



Māori students comprise 8.9% of total enrolments *



Pacific students comprise 4.2% of total enrolments *

  • Māori and Pacific Frameworks provide cohesive strategy.
  • Memoranda of understanding with Ngāi Tahu and other iwi in the University’s areas of operation.
  • Almost 100 Māori and Pacific Islands scholarships (2015).
  • Divisional programmes and structures dedicated to supporting Māori and Pacific student achievement.
  • The Māori Centre Te Huka Mātauraka and Pacific Islands Centre provide academic support, mentoring and pastoral care.

Commitment to the community


91% of staff are regularly involved in community service activities; value of this estimated at $40 million.*



National Poisons Centre provides a 24/7 service to the public: responds to around 35,000 enquiries each year.

  • Culture of good citizenship:
    • University Volunteer Centre works with more than 160 organisations
    • more than 1,700 registered student volunteers.xv
  • Five arts fellowships illustrate longstanding commitment to the arts.xvi
  • More than 700 open-to-the-public lectures and arts activities held on campus each year.*
  • Well-established academic outreach programmes, including Hands-on at Otago, Science Wānanga and the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre.
  • First New Zealand university to achieve Fair Trade status.xvii

Connected locally, nationally and internationally



Regular contact with around 100,000 alumni in 140 countries.xix



Student exchange agreements with more than 100 institutions in 33 countries.xx

  • Ranked among the top 300 universities in major international rankings.xiii
  • More than 380 formal research and teaching collaboration agreements.*
  • 34% of academic staff serve on government advisory boards and committees, and 75% provide services to public service departments, statutory authorities and non-governmental organisations.*