The University of Otago (Māori: ‘Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo’) in Dunedin is New Zealand’s oldest university.
It had over 21,000 students enrolled during 2011.
The university has New Zealand’s highest average research quality and in New Zealand is second only to the University of Auckland in the number of A rated academic researchers it employs. It topped the New Zealand Performance Based Research Fund evaluation in 2006.
Founded in 1869 by a committee including Thomas Burns, the university opened in July 1871. Its motto is “Sapere aude” (“Dare to be wise”). (The University of New Zealand subsequently adopted the same motto.) The Otago University Students’ Association answers this with its own motto, “Audeamus” (“let us dare”). The university’s graduation song Gaudeamus igitur, iuvenes dum sumus… (“Let us rejoice, while we are young”) acknowledges students will continue to live up to the challenge if not always in the way intended. Between 1874 and 1961 the University of Otago was a part of the University of New Zealand, and issued degrees in its name.