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

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


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20,721 students by headcount (18,722 EFTS).



2,353 international students from 100 countries.

  • Nationwide presence: from Invercargill to Auckland.
  • Around 4,500 postgraduate students including more than 1,500 doctoral students.
  • 4,154 full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff.
  • Annual revenue of $756.5 million.
  • Estimated national annual economic impacts of almost $1.6 billion.
  • Total assets of $2.4 billion.
  • Placed 194th in the QS world rankings and within the top 1% of universities internationally.
  • Maximum 5-stars plus ranking from QS Stars reflects quality and excellence.
  • Regular contact with more than 120,000 alumni in New Zealand and around the world.
  • Founding member of the Matariki Network of Universities.
  • More than 320 institutional partners.

Research and teaching excellence



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














13 flagship multidisciplinary research centres, 19 research themes and eight overarching areas of research strength.

  • $208 million in external research funding, including the PBRF.
  • 1,631 FTE academic and research-only staff.
  • Leadership and partnership roles in national Centres of Research Excellence and New Zealand’s National Science Challenges, and leadership of Genomics Aotearoa.
  • Four academic divisions: Humanities, Sciences, Health Sciences and Business offering more than 195 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
  • Hosts two of the most widely-recognised longitudinal studies in the world: The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study; Christchurch Health and Development Study.
  • Summer School and Distance Learning programmes.
  • Home of New Zealand’s first medical school and of New Zealand’s only schools of Dentistry and Surveying.
  • Internationally accredited Business School: AACSB and EQUIS accreditations.
  • Otago tops the TEC’s Educational Performance Indicators for student performance and retention.
  • Unmatched record in the National Teaching Excellence Awards: six Supreme Award winners over the past nine years.

Student experience


More than 85% of new students come to the University from outside Dunedin.

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14 residential colleges located on or near campus, accommodate almost 3,500 students.



Otago has produced 63 Rhodes Scholars since 1904.


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

  • Commitment to pastoral care with extensive student services and support networks.
  • Otago teams are highly successful in business case and debating competitions, in New Zealand and overseas.
  • Annual academic convocation ceremony and orientation programmes for students.
  • Director of First-Year Experience helps students transition to university life.
  • Office of Student Success helps all students get the most from their time at Otago, academically and in their personal development.
  • Otago has produced 63 Rhodes Scholars since 1904.
  • Around 170 student clubs, societies and activities to choose from.
  • The Otago University Rugby Football Club has produced more All Blacks than any other rugby club.
  • Otago has also won the New Zealand Universities Rowing Championships 20 times in the past 22 years.

Outstanding campus environments



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




Campus Watch teams on duty 24/7 to ensure a safe and secure campus environment.

  • The University of Otago’s main campus is in Dunedin, with specialist campuses in Wellington, Christchurch and Invercargill.
  • Significant capital development programme underway.
  • Sustainability Strategic Framework 2017–2021 integrates sustainability principles and practices across all activities.
  • 98% of students provided a positive assessment of the general campus environment.

Commitment to local, national and international betterment


90.8% of academic staff are regularly involved in community service activities, on average comprising 8.3% of their time.



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

  • Māori and Pacific Frameworks provide cohesive strategy to advance Māori and Pacific development.
  • Memoranda of understanding with Ngāi Tahu and other iwi in the University’s areas of operation.
  • Māori and Pacific students comprise 11.0% and 5.6% of total enrolments respectively (2020: 12.8% and 5.9% of domestic EFTS).
  • Divisional programmes, structures and scholarships are dedicated to supporting Māori and Pacific student achievement.
  • The Māori Centre Te Huka Matauraka and the Pacific Islands Centre provide academic support, mentoring and pastoral care.

Culture of good citizenship

  • Social Impact Studio worked with 65 community partners in 2019.
  • 42,350 volunteer hours undertaken by 6,000 students (2019).
  • 51.3% of graduates indicated they had undertaken volunteer work while studying at Otago.
  • Five arts fellowships illustrate longstanding commitment to the arts.
  • Research enhances health, social and environmental well-being.
  • More than 500 open-to-the-public lectures, symposia, continuing education and performing 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 and to sign the international SDG Accord to pursue the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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

Annual report