Arana College on Clyde St
Arana College on Clyde St

The majority of first year students at the University of Otago's Dunedin campus stay in one of the fourteen residential colleges, alongside a smaller number of senior students and postgraduates. These colleges provide food, accommodation, social and welfare services, as well as some degree of additional academic support,[1] particularly for the largest papers.

The colleges, many of which were formerly known as Halls of Residence, have a long-standing presence within the Dunedin academic society; the earliest was founded in 1893, only 24 years after the university's establishment. Since then, they have become contributing factors to the university's character[2] and, with a combined capacity of over 3000 students, they contribute substantially to the university's provision of accommodation for new members from outside the city. While most of the colleges are university owned, three are owned by Presbyterian Church and one by the Anglican Church and two are co-institutional, accommodating students of Otago Polytechnic, as well as those of the university.

In addition, the University of Otago College of Education, founded in 1876 as the Dunedin College of Education, has acted as an education faculty for the university since a merger in 2007, though it differs in function and purpose from the residential colleges described below.

Nature of the colleges

The most central halls, situated beside the university's oldest buildings, are St Margaret's College, noted for a strong academic lean, and University College (Unicol), which is the largest college, housing approximately 550 residents during the academic year. The colleges can exhibit distinctive features: Aquinas College, being amongst the smallest and farthest from the university centre, has developed a "family-like and informal atmosphere". Toroa College, formerly an international house, was almost exclusively filled by international students during this period, developing an environment with social and support aspects tailored to those special needs.[3][4]

The residential colleges select students based on their marks, extracurricular activities and high school testimonials, with some colleges having application to place ratios of over 3:1. Applicants may list several colleges in their application, in case they are not selected by their first preference.[5][6][7]

While many of the colleges only accept residents for a single year, a few do have a sizable proportion of second year returners. At some colleges, for instance Selwyn College and Knox College, the majority of new entrants stay for two or more years. The Chris Burks Memorial Bursary is awarded to a second year student resident at Carrington College. All of the colleges consist of a majority undergraduate population.[8][9][10]

Otago's colleges are not as significant in the life of the University as those of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Similarly to colleges at those universities, some Otago colleges have a Master, fellows, a chapel and/or regular formal meals but, unlike Oxford and Cambridge colleges, students' primary affiliation is to the university rather than to the college and it is normal for only a small percentage, if any, of an Otago student's teaching to take place in their college.

College ownership

While the majority of the residential colleges are owned by the University, they each have their own internal management structures and College Council.[11]

Churches established the first colleges at the university, Selwyn (1893), Knox (1909) and St. Margaret's (1911). Studholme (1915) is the oldest University-owned College. Four colleges continue to be owned by churches and are governed entirely independently from the University. These are Selwyn College, Knox College, St Margaret's College, and Salmond College.

Intercollegiate activities

A number of intercollegiate competitions are held, though often between pairs or subsets of the colleges.[12] According to the university's prospectus, all colleges other than Toroa College have some inter-collegiate activities.[13] Regular competitions include:

An intercollegiate rowing competition was held in May 2010 which Unicol are the current holders of. An intercollegiate basketball competition was held over August/September and the respective champions were Arana (mixed), Cumberland (girls) & Aquinas College (boys).

List of residential colleges

Name Colours (if app.) Opened Capacity UG/PG[14] Website
CoA Selwyn College, Otago.svg
Selwyn College
1893 170 U+P [1]
CoA Knox College Dunedin.svg
Knox College
1909 203 U+P [2]
CoA St Margaret
St Margaret's College
1911 227 U [3]
Arms of Studholme College Otago.svg
Studholme College
1915 173 U [4]
Arms of Arana College Otago.svg
Arana College
1943 401 U+P [5]
Arms of Carrington College Otago.svg
Carrington College
1945 224 U+P [6]
Arms of Aquinas College Otago.svg
Aquinas College
1952 165 U [7]
Arms of University College Otago.svg
University College
1969 518 U [8]
Arms of Salmond College Otago.svg
Salmond College
1971 192 U+P [9]
Arms of Cumberland College Otago.svg
Cumberland College
1989 436 U [10]
Arms of Hayward College Otago.svg
Hayward College
1992 162 U [11]
Arms of Tora College Otago.svg
Toroa College
1996 131 U+P [12]
Arms of Caroline Freeman College Otago.svg
Caroline Freeman College
2000 211 U+P [13]
Te Rangi Hiroa College 2014 121 U [14]

The university maintains an online list.

Descriptions of the colleges

A number of colleges have their own articles: Caroline Freeman College, Selwyn College, Knox College, St Margaret's College, Studholme College, Arana College, Carrington College, Aquinas College, University College, Salmond College, and Cumberland College.

From the founding of the first college, Selwyn College, in 1893, to the most recent, Te Rangi Hiroa College, in 2014,[15] the architecture, motivations, expectations and models for residential colleges in Dunedin have changed substantially. None of the earliest three colleges were owned by the university, despite this being the case for the vast majority of later colleges, and a significant fraction were originally single-sex (including all but one of the affiliated colleges and several university-owned colleges) whereas all colleges are now co-educational. As such, the residential colleges represent a wide range of buildings, compositions and ethoses.

Toroa College

Toroa College was opened by the university in 1996 as Toroa International House to cater for growing numbers of overseas students. It was the first residential college to offer self-catering accommodation.[16] Since then, it has become Toroa College and has opened access to domestic students.[17] The college takes an active approach to environmental issues and has an environmental committee charged with encouraging sustainable living in the residential college context.[17]

Abbey College

Abbey College
Abbey College

Abbey College was a postgraduate residential college at the University of Otago from 2008 to 2020. It was founded in 2008[18] to meet the needs of the university's growing graduate and postgraduate population.[19] The college had a range of facilities developed for the hotel/motel previously occupying the complex, such as a swimming pool and sauna.[20]

It had a strong international representation with two-thirds of members from outside New Zealand.[21] The first Head of College was Gretchen Kivell (February 2008 - June 2013) followed by Dr Charles Tustin (July 2013 to November 2016).

Abbey College was closed in 2020. In 2021, the building was used as a wing of nearby Caroline Freeman College.[22]

See also


  1. ^ According to the University of Otago 2010 Prospectus, all 13 undergraduate colleges run Tutorials (pp. 66-67)
  2. ^ In the shadow of potential Hall and College closures during 1980, then Vice-Chancellor Sir Robert Aitken stated that "the one thing I am sure about, ..., is that we need our halls so that we can retain our University's character"; Irvine, Robin (1986), Letters from a Vice-Chancellor: University of Otago, p. 81
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-19. Retrieved 2010-04-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Aquinas College: Your home away from home".
  5. ^ e.g
  6. ^ Constantine, Ellie (27 February 2009). "Students 'one big family' at oldest hall". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-01. Retrieved 2010-04-08.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Knox College".
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-04. Retrieved 2010-04-08.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ For example, a brief description of this structure in University College is available on their website:
  12. ^ e.g
  13. ^ University of Otago 2010 Prospectus, pp. 66-67
  14. ^ According to the University of Otago 2010 Prospectus, pp. 66-67
  15. ^ "Maori theme makes latest college unique". 7 February 2014.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2010-04-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-04-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2013-07-18.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2010-04-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Facilities at Abbey College, University of Otago, New Zealand". Archived from the original on 2008-10-16.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2010-04-08.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Boutique Hotel Takes the L, Repurposed into Student Accommodation".
Coordinates: 45°51′56″S 170°30′50″E / 45.86556°S 170.51389°E / -45.86556; 170.51389