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Research excellence underpins academic activity at Otago and a strong research culture is fostered across all four divisions – Business, Health Sciences, Humanities and Sciences. This was highlighted by Otago’s success under the New Zealand Government’s 2012 Performance-Based Research Funding (PBRF) quality evaluation, which confirmed Otago's position as the leading research institution in New Zealand. In the almost 150 years since, Otago has prided itself on being a research-led University with an international reputation for excellence.
Otago is at the forefront of modern scholarship and has a long-established tradition of innovation. It is for this reason Otago is able to attract first-rate academics, and our graduates are renowned for their independence and audacity of spirit. Otago’s annual Foreign Policy School continues to attract leading national and international speakers. For more than two decades, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs has used the school to train the new cohorts of New Zealand diplomats.
Otago is known for its vibrant student life, particularly its flatting, which is often in old houses. Otago students (Scarfies) have a long standing tradition of naming their flats.
Campus life: Dunedin is the only true university city in New Zealand and Australia with more than 18,000 young people coming not only to learn, but also to live in beautiful coastal city. In 2013, the Huffington Post listed the University of Otago as one of the fifteen most beautiful university campuses in the world.
The University of Otago has ten libraries: seven based in Dunedin on the main university campus, the Education library in Southland, plus two medical libraries in Wellington and Christchurch. All libraries have wireless access.
The University of Otago owns, or is in affiliation with, fourteen residential colleges, which provide food, accommodation, social and welfare services. Most of these cater primarily for first year students, though some have a sizable number of second and higher year undergraduates, as well as occasionally a significant postgraduate population. While some teaching is normally undertaken at a college, this generally represents a small percentage of a resident's formal tuition.
'O-Week' or Orientation Week is the Otago equivalent of Freshers' Week. O-week is organised by the Otago University Students' Association and involves competitions such as 'Fresher of the Year' whereby several students volunteer to carry out a series of tasks throughout the week before being voted to win.
The OUSA also organises events each night including various concerts, a comedy night, hypnotist plus bigger events at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Typically there is a Highlanders rugby game scheduled during the week. Local bars organise events also with a range of live music and promotional deals. Historically events have included the Cookathon and a Miss O-Week competition hosted by The Outback