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FAQs about Residential Colleges

Do I have to be a University of Otago student to live in a Residential College?

To be considered for a place at a Residential College students need to be studying full-time and attending the University of Otago. Limited places are available for Otago Polytechnic students at Salmond College. Foundation Year students who have applied for a Tu Kahika Scholarship or Pacific Foundation Scholarship may apply to Arana College and Studholme College. Students studying Foundation Studies at the University of Otago may also apply to Salmond College and St Margaret's College.

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When do the colleges open at the start of the year?

The majority of colleges open on the Saturday before the start of Orientation Week. The specific dates will be provided with your offer.

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What should I bring with me?

When you receive an offer you will be advised in detail what you need to provide. The standard items you will need to bring are personal items, toiletries, clothing and towels.

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What are the rooms like?

The majority of rooms at Otago are single study bedrooms. Each room is equipped with a single bed with linen, desk and chair, wardrobe, bookcase etc. All rooms are fully heated. Please look at the individual college websites to see photos of their rooms.

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Can residents swap rooms?

No. If you are unhappy with your room please see the Head of College.

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Is it ok for my friends or family to visit me?

Friends and family are welcome to visit. Please check with the college about their visitor and overnight guest policies. At the start of the year while staff are getting to know the residents, guests are not encouraged. There are some times throughout the year when the college does not allow visitors or overnight guests but the resident is advised in advance.

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Who will do my washing?

The colleges supply clean sheets every week and launder them for you. You do your own washing and the use of washing machines/dryers is free. You need to supply your own detergent.

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Are there lots of rules and regulations?

Anytime a large number of people live together in close quarters rules and regulations are needed for the good of the community. The colleges have straightforward and clear rules about alcohol, noise and general behaviour. The rules are designed to allow everyone the opportunity to succeed in their academic studies and enjoy the college lifestyle.

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What are my obligations?

Before you accept an offer of a place, you must read the contract and college handbook carefully. You (and any guarantor) will be signing a legally binding contract. Once you move in you must:

  • Pay your fees and charges, when due, for the full term of your contract, unless the Head of College agrees to release you from it.
  • Show consideration towards other residents and neighbours, and their property.
  • Keep your room reasonably clean and tidy and free from damage.
  • Inform the college staff as soon as possible of any maintenance issues or repairs needed.
  • Participate in the communal life of the college.
  • Abide by the rules set out in the college's handbook.

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What happens if I don’t like living in a college once I get there?

Living with a large number of people may be a very different lifestyle. Lots of activities are arranged for the first few weeks to ensure everyone gets to know each other. Most residents make new friends and settle in very quickly.

Moving away from home is a time of major adjustment and you may need to talk through any difficulties with a sympathetic listener such as a residential assistant, staff or a friend. It usually takes at least six weeks to adjust to major moves like this, so give yourself at least this amount of time before you make any other decisions. There are usually ways of resolving problems with accommodation, provided you find ways of talking them through.

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What are the fees?

These vary between Residential Colleges. Fees are set annually and are subject to change each year. For 2020 accommodation in the majority of University Managed Colleges, the fee was $15,846.00 for the academic year.

When you receive an offer of accommodation in October you will also be required to pay an entry and activities fee within 14 days. For accommodation in 2020 this was $760.00 in a University Managed College.

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How do I pay my accommodation fees?

The majority of students are required to make an up-front payment due before the end of January depending on the payment plan they have selected, this information is available online Fee payment schedule.  Please note that Study Link and Student Allowances do not cover the full cost of accommodation.

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How do I contact Studylink to discuss student allowances and loans?

For information about entitlements and what is currently provided please refer to or tel 0800 88 99 00.

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I am vegetarian, is this catered for?

The majority of colleges can accommodate this. Please refer to the Residential College website for more information about catering.

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I am gluten free, is this catered for?

The majority of colleges can accommodate this health requirement but they may require confirmation from your medical practitioner to support this condition.

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What about vegan diets?

The following colleges cater for vegan diets: Aquinas, Arana, Carrington, Caroline Freeman, Cumberland, Hayward, Selwyn, Studholme, Te Rangi Hiroa and Toroa.  Please contact the Student Accommodation Centre for more information.