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NEW ZEALAND - Direct Enroll at University of Otago

If you decide to study at the University of Otago, you will enjoy a unique educational environment. The University of Otago is New Zealand’s leading research institution. Otago also enjoys an international reputation for the quality of its teaching and is a world leader in many academic fields. Students from around the world rate Otago’s reputation and the quality of its study environment as its strongest attractions.

Education is Dunedin’s largest industry, with the University of Otago playing a vital role. Of Dunedin’s population of 120,000, more than 18,000 are University of Otago students. The campus is in the center of the city and, as a result, much of Dunedin’s commerce, music, entertainment, and sport has evolved around its student culture. Dunedin offers students the best of both worlds. It has the variety of facilities and entertainment characteristic of larger cities but is small enough to be friendly, uncrowded and safe. International students find this city as welcoming as the University itself and appreciate the short time it takes to feel comfortable and at home.

This program would be suitable for students that are ready to be abroad, but would still like some of the academic services that a U.S. college provides.  It is a good choice for someone that is a world traveler OR has never left their hometown.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. (Transfer students may participate after the first semester on campus, provided they meet application deadlines) 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0.

Otago offers a rich cultural life, reflecting a diverse international student community and New Zealand’s own multicultural population. From its original Scottish foundations, the University now embraces its Pacific heritage. It is engaged in a mutually-beneficial partnership with Mäori, particularly with the local iwi (tribe), Ngäi Tahu. 

Located on the edge of the Dunedin Botanic Garden, the Otago campus is very beautiful. The Water of Leith winds its way past the majestic stone Clocktower, a visible reminder of the University’s history and tradition of learning, the state-of-the-art Centre for Innovation and the many character villas which house much of Otago’s student population. Almost all Otago students live within walking distance of the University campus and key facilities such as lecture theatres, libraries, and computer resource rooms.

The central city streets are lined with restaurants, bars, and cafes. Modern shopping malls trade alongside boutiques, galleries, and weekly craft and farmers’ markets. The fashion industry is particularly vibrant with several of New Zealand’s leading designers based in the city. The Dunedin Public Art Gallery, museums, and libraries are among the finest in the country and professional theatre and the Dunedin Sinfonia enjoy a high profile. Dunedin is also home to New Zealand’s newest, largest and most versatile arena – the Forsyth Barr Stadium at University Plaza. This is the place to go for all major sporting events, concerts and more. Temperatures range from an average 14 – 24 degrees Celsius in the summer (December – February) and from 5 – 13 degrees Celsius in the winter (June – August), so outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round. There are more than 150 walking tracks in the Dunedin environs, four championship golf courses and many other sporting facilities which are all easily accessible. The long natural harbor is favored for water sports and St Clair beach is considered one of New Zealand’s best for surfing. Dunedin is encircled by a “Town Belt” of native bush and trees and its coastline is home to colonies of yellow-eyed penguins, New Zealand fur seals and the world’s only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross. Just a few hours’ drive out of the city is some of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attractions – rugged mountains, deep fiords, clear blue lakes – including the internationally-known resort towns of Queenstown and Wanaka, famed for their ski fields and burgeoning wine industry.

To learn more about the visa process for this country, please visit the Embassy of New Zealand Website. 


The University of Otago is a founding member of the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU), a select international group of outstanding universities, with each member amongst the oldest and foremost places of learning in its respective country.

New Zealand universities generally follow the British model of three-year undergraduate degrees. The Otago bachelor’s degree builds towards a “major” in the third year with an increasing level of specialization and difficulty. Study Abroad and Exchange students can choose from a wide range of undergraduate subjects.

The building blocks of the degree are called papers. A paper is a fixed course of work in certain aspects of a subject. Introductory papers are called 100-level papers, then you move on in subsequent years or semesters to 200-level and 300-level papers. Most 400-level papers are at the postgraduate level.

Most papers are single-semester papers and are worth 18 points. A full-time semester load is generally 54-72 points in any one semester or 108-144 points in any one year. As an approximate guide, you can expect to spend about 12 hours per week per one single-semester paper (18 points). These hours are made up of a combination of lectures, tutorials, laboratories, assignments, and reading.  18 Otago points are worth approximately 9 ECTS and 4 US credit hours.  Students should expect to take 72 points to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.

Most papers beyond 100-level have particular prerequisites. If you have not completed the equivalent of a prerequisite for a certain paper at your home institution you are not permitted to enroll in that paper. Some papers also have what are called corequisites. If you have not already passed the equivalent of the corequisite, you must take it alongside the other paper.

A number of papers are listed as “full year”. You may enroll for these papers only if you intend to enroll for two semesters commencing in the First Semester (February).

The information sheets below are designed to provide you with information about some of the papers that you may be interested in studying at the University of Otago as a Study Abroad student.



The basic method of presenting subject information in undergraduate papers is the lecture, although many departments use a variety of flexible approaches. Lectures normally last 50 minutes. Lectures are only a basic means of introducing new knowledge. You must back them up with your own reading. You will also take part in laboratories or tutorials, which are teaching and discussion classes of 12-20 students where more individual attention is available. You will also find you are in regular contact with tutors, other academic staff and other students by email and online discussion groups.

Courses are assessed in a variety of ways. Examination “finals” are usually the most important. Each paper normally has a two- or three-hour final examination. Finals are held at the end of each semester. Most subjects also have shorter tests during the semesters. Written assignments and laboratory work also usually count towards the final grade. Ongoing internal assessment is a feature of most Otago papers.

Student Life

Students’ Association

The Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) runs an orientation program at the start of the academic year. It also organizes many social and sporting events, produces a weekly student newspaper (Critic) and operates a radio station (Radio One 91FM). The association also offers services to students needing friendly advice, assistance and/or representation concerning academic issues or, in fact, any problems you may be experiencing while you’re studying at Otago.

Recreation Services

Sport, recreation and having fun are a big part of the Otago lifestyle. Recreation Services offers a comprehensive range of recreational facilities, activities and services on- and off-campus. At Unipol Recreation Centre you can find out about the many activities, courses and tours available – from crafts and leisure activities to social sports and outdoor pursuits. Sport and recreation equipment is available for hire. Now in a brand new facility, Unipol Recreation Centre also offers weight training and cardio rooms, fitness classes and gym space for basketball, table tennis and more. In addition, the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) runs the OUSA Recreation Centre, which is home to over 100 different cultural, sporting, political and religious interests. OUSA also owns a yacht club, squash courts and an Aquatic Centre for University rowers, windsurfers and kayakers. Most of the facilities and clubs are free to hire or join so get in touch to see what you would like to do while you are having a study break.

Disability Information and Support

DI&S provides learning support, advice, advocacy, and information to students with permanent, recurring or temporary impairments. DI&S offers support to international students. However, as with any other student enrolling at the University, it is important that you check in advance to ensure that the University is able to meet your specific requirements. You need to be sure that the University can provide you with the type and level of support you are used to. As there may be costs associated with some support services, it is important that you are aware of these before you commit to studying at Otago. Please contact us as early as possible if you are planning to study at the University. 

Student Health Services

Student Health Services is situated on campus and provides medical, nursing, counseling and psychiatric advice and treatment for all international students enrolled at the University of Otago.

Studentsafe-University is the University of Otago’s preferred insurance provider. The University has negotiated a highly competitive premium which is outlined below. If you elect to purchase the Studentsafe package, you will be able to arrange the insurance directly with the University and pay the insurance premium with your tuition fees and Student Services Fee.

The Studentsafe University medical and insurance package is specially designed to meet the needs of international students in New Zealand 

Students can learn more about orientation and arrival at Otago here.

The Otago International Friendship Network (formerly known as the International Mentor Programme) matches new international students with enthusiastic, friendly Otago students to help them settle into Dunedin and adjust to life at the University. Our Otago partners all volunteer their time to be a part of the Network and receive peer support training to help prepare them for their role.

Students involved in OIFN will have the chance to attend a welcome event at the beginning of the semester and catch up events throughout the semester. We encourage students in the program to organize events and outings with other Otago and international partners in the Network.

Joining OIFN is a great way to meet people from all over the world, have fun and be part of a valuable social and support network.

  Experiential Opportunities

Otago’s southern New Zealand location, in close proximity to wildlife, marine and geological areas of research interest, enables University departments to make the most of the natural laboratory on their doorstep. New Zealand-specific content and exploratory field trips are common components to many science courses in, for example, Botany, Ecology, Geography, Geology and Marine Science. In addition, a number of papers offered at Otago provide the opportunity to undertake a small, independent research project.

New Programme for Education and Teaching Students

If you are an education or teaching major wishing to teach in a New Zealand primary (elementary) school or early childhood center, please ask us about our new education study abroad opportunity. Approved universities may allow you to take a course of study with Otago that includes five weeks in the classroom.

Housing and Meals

Almost all Otago students live within walking distance of the University campus and key facilities such as lecture theatres, libraries, and computer resource rooms. The majority of students live in rented flats, which are apartments or houses, usually shared by four or five students. Flatting is an important part of Otago’s unique student lifestyle. It offers students both independence and responsibility. Living so close to campus, students feel a real sense of community and a sense of belonging in a very pleasant and supportive environment.

Accommodation advisers will assist with placement in an appropriate accommodation option and ensure that you are fully informed of all costs and contractual obligations.  

Student Accommodation Centre Services

• list of flats and houses, vacant rooms in flats

• list of temporary accommodation

• sample budgets for flat living

• free maps of campus and Dunedin areas

• checklists for flat finders

• flatting agreements

• assistance in finding family accommodation

• advice on your rights and responsibilities as a tenant • advice on standards and prices.

For further information please refer to the Student Accommodation Centre website.


Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for the direct enroll to University of Otago program includes orientation, onsite coordinators, airport pick-up, estimated flat accommodation, access to the health center, and college fees.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2019/Spring 2020 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College




Studentsafe Health Insurance (required for study in New Zealand)


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of March 2019. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office