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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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20,838 students by headcount (18,457 EFTS).



2,837 international students from 100 countries (13.6% of the student population).

  • Nationwide presence: from Invercargill to Auckland.
  • More than 3,750 postgraduate students including 1,410 PhD students.
  • 4,029 full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff.
  • Annual revenue of $715.8 million.
  • Estimated national annual economic impacts of almost $1.9 billion.
  • Total assets of $2.2 billion.
  • Ranked 151st in the 2017/18 QS world university rankings…
  • … in the top 100 in 15 subject areas (QS: 2018)...
  • … and in the top 300 worldwide in all other major international rankings.
  • Five stars plus ranking from QS Stars reflects quality and excellence.

Research-intensive university



Three Prime Minister’s Science Prize winners (2011, 2014, 2017).














12 flagship multidisciplinary research centres and 17 research themes.

  • $183 million in external research funding (including PBRF).
  • 1,552 FTE academic and research-only staff.
  • Leadership and partnership roles in national Centres of Research Excellence.
  • Leadership and partnership roles in the New Zealand’s National Science Challenges.
  • Leadership of Genomics Aotearoa
  • New Zealand’s leading postgraduate research university: postgraduate students enjoy a 3:1 ratio to research-active staff.
  • Hosts two of the most widely-recognised longitudinal studies in the world: The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study; Christchurch Health and Development Study.
  • 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 more than 1,136,250 pictures and photographs, and 10,272 linear metres of archives.

Teaching excellence




More than 195 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.


Top 10

Otago ranks among the world’s top 50 (QS rankings 2018) for the study of physical education, dentistry, archaeology, anatomy and physiology, and development studies.

  • 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 all TEC educational performance indicators for the retention of students, course and qualification completions, and progression to higher study.
  • Unmatched record in the National Teaching Excellence Awards: seven Supreme Award winners over the last 15 years.

Student experience


Around 85% of students from outside Dunedin.

Residential college

Residential college

Residential college

Residential college

Residential college

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Residential college


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

  • Abbey College is New Zealand’s first postgraduate residential college.
  • 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; 98% with administration and support; 98% 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 63 Rhodes Scholars since 1904.


95% of graduates go into work or on to further study.

  • The Otago University Rowing Club won the 2017 International Universities Rowing Regatta in China.
  • Otago has also won the New Zealand Universities Rowing Championships for the past 18 years...
  • …and the senior women’s eight has been unbeaten in New Zealand and internationally for five 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.

Outstanding campus environments



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




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 15 years.
  • Sustainability Strategic Framework 2017–2021 integrates sustainability principles and practices across all activities.
  • 97% of students provided a positive assessment of the general campus environment.

Commitment to Maori and Pacific development



Māori students comprise 9.3% of total enrolments (2017: 11.4% domestic EFTS).



Pacific students comprise 4.5% of total enrolments  (2017: 4.9% domestic EFTS).

  • Māori and Pacific Frameworks provide cohesive strategy.
  • Memoranda of understanding with Ngāi Tahu and other iwi in the University’s areas of operation.
  • Around 180 Māori and Pacific Islands scholarships.
  • 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


80% of staff are regularly involved in community service activities; value of this estimated at $25.5 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 205 organisations
    • more than 3,730 registered student volunteers.
  • Five arts fellowships illustrate longstanding commitment to the arts.
  • 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.

Connected locally, nationally and internationally



Regular contact with more than 100,000 alumni in 140 countries.



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

  • More than 380 formal research and teaching collaboration agreements.
  • 55% of academic staff serve on editorial boards of publications, and 73% hold a post in an organisation relevant to their area of expertise.

For further information, see the University of Otago Annual Report:

Annual report