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Otago International Blog
The University of Otago International Office blog

Further your knowledge and your career – study for a Master of Finance at the University of Otago.

For previous generations the completion of an undergraduate degree would provide a direct pathway to secure employment.  But in 2019, with the advent of globalisation, world travel is now affordable and accessible,  the global population is increasing and living longer, so naturally competition for employment has subsequently increased. 

So, as much as an undergraduate degree is an achievement and a sign to a potential employer that you have the tenacity to commit to a period of study, it may no longer be enough to give you the edge over another candidate/student, and that’s where postgraduate study comes in. 

The University of Otago has a range of postgraduate study options, and today we will focus on the Master of Finance (MFinc), and associated scholarship opportunities offered by the Otago Business School’s Department of Accountancy & Finance.

Where to from here?

So, you’ve completed an undergraduate degree – congratulations!  Or, perhaps you’ve been working for a number of years and you feel that there are gaps in your knowledge base/skill set that are holding you back from moving forward in your chosen career path?  If you are seeking/currently in a career in the finance industry or for financial specialists in non-financial firms the Master of Finance (MFinc) is the qualification for you. The study options within the degree are designed to offer a number of pathways for you depending on your academic background and career aspirations. The primary pathway is for strong graduates of mathematically-oriented degrees such as mathematics and statistics, physics and economics.

Key information about the Master of Finance (MFinc):

  • 12 month (February to February) full time study
  • Seven taught papers plus either an applied or research project
  • Applicants with a mathematically oriented degree and normally with an average grade of B+ in the papers satisfying the final year major subject requirement for that degree are encouraged to apply
  • Applicants with relevant practical experience may also be considered if the B+ average is not met

If you complete the Applied Project (FINC501) option you will have a wide range of career opportunities in commercial and investment banks, brokerage and investment firms, insurance companies, treasury departments of non-financial corporations, regulatory agencies, consulting and accounting firms. If on the other hand you complete the Research Project (FINC580) you will also have the ability to design and pursue a large project of independent research and consider a Master of Commerce (MCom) or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Finance.

The Master of Finance (MFinc) will equip you to be either:

  • Professional practitioners in the field of Finance; or
  • Academic researchers in the discipline of Finance

Internationally renowned lecturers

Professor Jin Zhang is Professor of Finance at the University of Otago. Jin was previously Associate Professor at the School of Economics and Finance, the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Jin Zhang received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Tsinghua University in 1985 and 1988, respectively. He received his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1996. After spending one-year as an associate at Morgan Stanley in New York, he went to Hong Kong to teach Financial Engineering at City University Hong Kong from 1997 to 2001, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology from 2001 to 2004, and then HKU from 2004 to 2012. He has served as the Director of Master of Finance program and Associate Director, Center for Financial Innovation and Risk Management (CFIRM) at University of Hong Kong from 2009.  PLUS on top of all of these academic achievements Jin was awarded the OUSA 2018 supervisor of the year award for the Accountancy and Finance Department!

Advice from a former Master of Finance (MFinc) student

Long Bui graduated with a Master of Finance (MFinc) in May 2019 and he had this to say about his experience:

“Completing the MFINC degree at the University of Otago has given me an opportunity to take a step forward in my finance career, i.e. to become a portfolio manager. As I moved on to management level in the asset management industry, I realised that having a solid background in financial analysis and fluent asset pricing technique is just not enough. You also need to be confident when encountering and discussing different advanced topics with your management colleagues and other specialists in this industry.

Confidence comes when you get rid of your fear and “the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”.

In this regard, the MFINC program enhances my knowledge on various aspects of finance, which were unknown to me before, such as mathematical finance, advanced corporate finance, advanced financial econometrics and energy carbon finance. I also had a chance to learn how to prepare and write academic research. Not to mention that I had hands-on experience in doing real life projects in risk management, electricity trading, stocks momentum effect using Matlab, STATA, and Excel simulation. All of the above fill the missing pieces in my whole picture of the broader finance world.

Besides, the MFINC lecturers are very supportive and dedicated, with their “heavy” and comprehensive course materials. Therefore, I would be more than happy to recommend the MFINC program to not only someone who wants to climb higher in their career ladder but also to those who think of starting their very first journey into the finance world.”

Apply now and receive a $10,000 scholarship

The Department of Accountancy and Finance is currently offering international students, who fit the admission requirements of the Master of Finance (MFinc), and wish to commence study in February 2020, the opportunity to receive (based on academic merit) a NZD $10,000 scholarship.

Further your knowledge and your career with the Master of Finance (MFinc) from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Applications close 31 October 2019.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, both from Otago, she is passionate about education, and the places it can take you.

Study Abroad at Otago – if you love what you do, you can do it here.

Fox Meyer came to the University of Otago from Washington DC, originally for one semester, but one semester proved not long enough, and he extended his stay for a year.  We caught up with Fox, as he is a bit of an international student super-star, and asked him why he came to Otago?  What he experienced when he was here – the good and the bad, and the combination of factors that make the University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand, located at the very bottom of the world, such a special place.

“Plenty of schools have good geology programmes, and plenty of schools are in wonderful locations, I chose Otago, because it has both.”

The style of learning was different to what Meyer was used to back home, more independent and ultimately down to personal motivation.  If you’re passionate, the academics will do everything they can to help you.

“Academically, the kiwi attitude towards failure was very healthy.  Professors won’t hesitate to fail you if you aren’t making the grade, but that’s not the end of the world.  They don’t sugar-coat anything.  You’re there to learn, and you need to be wrong in order to learn.  I’m glad the staff felt the same way.”

The majority of geology coursework involved fieldwork, plenty of time in tents and streams, resulting in a final product as opposed to an exam, which was perfect for Meyer’s learning style.

Otago has encouraged me to do any sort of project I could conceive of, and point me in the right direction when I’ve needed help.” 

This independence and interest for his subject led to assisting a professor looking at the thermal properties of the Otago harbour.  The data obtained from this is useful in tracking climate change, as well as prospecting potential geothermal taps.  On a whim, Meyer applied for the inaugural ‘Think New Grant,’ from Education New Zealand, and won it!

“I think that part of the reason I won was because I had so much fun applying; enthusiasm for one’s study can often be contagious, so big ups to Otago for fostering that curiosity.”

When asked what a stand out feature of studying at Otago was, Meyer refers to the social lifestyle at Otago as an international student:

“Living in the international community is a wonderful bubble. There’s something going on every night of the week, you’ll meet folks from all over the world, and if you don’t know how to cook, now’s the time to learn!”

And once again, the learning and teaching environment are top of mind:

“I was given a lot of creative freedom and deadline flexibility to produce an end product that I was happy with.  That being said, expectations are very high.  You had to ask for help, you had to explore, and you really had to get your feet wet.  That’s a good way of describing Otago:  it’s very easy to get your feet wet, and if you’d like, you can dive a whole lot deeper.”

Best memory?

“I have a year of best memories.  The most humbling was during field camp when I’d just submitted my first map sheet, and I thought I was really hot stuff.  I felt really big for my boots, was very confident with my lab experience back in the States.  Boy, was I mistaken.  Way off!  My map sheet made no sense at all and the lecturers tore it to shreds.  I asked for advice, listened to their advice, went back out, and got a 98% on my next map.  Otago taught me not to think I know too much.  There’s always room for improvement.”

Worst experience?

“Leaving Otago.  It’s that good.  If you’re someone who likes their independence, who can work hard and play hard, there’s really nowhere else to go.  Definitely not Auckland.” 

Future plans?

“I’ll be back to New Zealand as soon as I can, I’d like to explore jobs in the geothermal sector.  I really believe New Zealand has both the natural potential and the social support to become a geothermal powerhouse.”

Great to catch up with you Fox, congratulations on graduating with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Geology, we wish you all the very best with your future endeavours.

Our favourite takeaway quote from chatting:

“If you love what you do, you can do it here.”

To find out more about studying at the University of Otago, click the big yellow button below and start your journey!

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, both from Otago, she is passionate about education, and the places it can take you.

Study Accounting at Otago – yeah…..nah?

Accountancy as a subject and a profession can sometimes get a fairly big  ‘yawn’ reaction from people, but how much do you know about studying Accounting at the University of Otago?  Unless you are a current accounting student, or you already know your chosen path and you’re planning to study accounting, maybe you’ve never really delved deeper below the surface of this possibly misjudged and maligned subject?  We are going to take a look at the history of accounting at Otago, the current teaching and department strengths and affiliations and the opportunities a qualification in accounting can bring you career wise, plus current scholarships available.  Let’s see if we can surprise you, who knows, you may change your mind on studying accounting at Otago and go from a yeah nah, to a yeah, yes, absolutely!

The History

The University of Otago has been teaching Accountancy and Commerce since the early twentieth century, so if you look at that from the perspective New Zealand was only settled by Europeans in the mid to late 19th century, 107 years is old in this country.  And although history is wonderful, and can teach us so much, history isn’t what is going to convince you to come and study Accounting at Otago, it is the present and future that really matters.

The Present

The Department of Accountancy and Finance is a member of CFA’s University Affiliation programme, offers a Visiting Executive in Residence programme that provides for a top industry leader in either Accounting or Finance to spend a week presenting seminars and meeting with students and staff.  IRD, ANZ, ACC, NZX and directors of multiple  companies have attended.

However, this picture shows the present and very human face of accounting at Otago – Nicola Beatson, and she is anything but boring. If you want to get enthused about this subject, this is the teacher – she seriously loves it!  Nicola is also one, like so many of our academics who sees each student as an individual, and not just a number.

“Each student is an individual who comes into the lecture with a different set of experiences. I constantly remind myself that although the words I’m saying make perfect sense to me, to students sometimes it can be confusing and hard.”

Nicola joined the Department of Accountancy and Finance at the University of Otago in 2010. Since that time she has had several teaching accolades, including being awarded the prestigious Otago Teaching Excellence Award this year, the Disability Information and Support Appreciation Award in 2016, OUSA’s Top Ten Lecturers teaching award in 2015, Premier Commerce Teaching award in 2017, and the Overall Premier Lecturer award last year.

“I love teaching accounting as I get to share my love of a complex, dynamic discipline, and dispel the myth that accounting is boring.  It’s a wonderful, complex and interesting discipline that is based on human decision making and judgement. If my students can see that accounting is more than just punching numbers into a calculator – although that is fun too – then that would make me very happy.”

The Future

If you choose to study accounting at Otago, rest assured employment prospects for our graduates are exceptional, and global.

Study for the life you want

The Department of Accountancy and Finance offers undergraduate and postgraduate study choices. Gain knowledge and experience that will be an asset in any career.

An understanding of accounting is important for everyone. Accounting takes you places, and can open doors to a range of exciting industries. Looking to practice accounting, work in a business environment, or just wish to be a better informed consumer or shareholder?

Accounting is for you.

Accounting at Otago covers five main areas:

  1. Financial accounting
  2. Management accounting
  3. Financial management
  4. Taxation
  5. Auditing

No experience or background in Accounting?

No worries.  We have the perfect solution, the Master of Professional Accounting (MProfAcct) and we are offering 10 x $10,000 (NZD) scholarships for this programme to international students.

The Master of Professional Accounting (MProfAcct) is a professionally
accredited accounting programme aimed at graduates of any discipline
who want to pursue a career in accounting.

Programme features:

• Designed by both academics and practitioners
• Accredited by professional accounting bodies, CPA Australia and
Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ)
• Special focus on developing strong technical and professional
accounting skills, including communication and analytical skills
• Open to graduates of any discipline

Recent graduate of the MProfAcct, Annie Liu from China, had this to say about her experience on the programme:

“I appreciate I could finish my degree at the University of Otago. I am very grateful to all the teachers of the Master of Professional Accounting, thank you for your teaching and help. I also want to thanks to my classmates for helping me during my study. By learning MProfAcct, my accounting expertise has grown, besides, the important thing is the learning process, which has helped me improve my learning ability and expand my knowledge. I found in my work that a lot of the knowledge I have learned can be used. I’m so lucky to know and meet so much kind and lovely people in Dunedin. Thank you all!
I am currently working at Stonewood Homes, a well-known home designs in Auckland following completion of my MProfAcct degree”.

So, there you go, whether you have a commerce background, experience, or not, there are a range of opportunities available for you to study accounting at the University of Otago, Dunedin.  And instead of thinking that accounting and studying accounting is boring, perhaps you can think again?

Thanks to the University of Otago content team for providing a lot of the academic information for this blog.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, both from Otago, she is passionate about education, and the places it can take you.

Why is Dunedin the wildlife capital of NZ?

The topic of our native and particularly endemic wildlife in New Zealand, and Dunedin is a passion close to my heart.  I think you will find that many local Dunedin people feel the same way that I do, we recognise the precious taonga that we are surrounded by, and increasingly we are feeling a need to protect, care for and nurture these remarkable animals that made their lives here long before humans walked on our shores.  This blog is also timed to promote the upcoming ‘Wild Dunedin – New Zealand Festival of Nature‘, that runs from 22 – 28 April 2019.  

Let’s find out some of the reasons that two of the most well known and passionate naturalists in the world used these words to describe our environment – ” Otago Peninsula and Taiaroa Head is a unique and very special place. It is a place that every visitor to Dunedin should see” – Sir David Attenborough. ” In my opinion the Otago Peninsula is the finest example of eco-tourism in the world” Professor David Bellamy.

The Northern Royal Albatross/Toroa

We have so many taonga to choose from, it really is a question of where to start?  But I think starting with this magnificent sea bird is the place – the Northern Royal Albatross or Toroa.  This largest of all sea birds spends it’s entire life at sea, only returning to land to breed.  And the Otago Peninsula, and specifically Taiaroa Head is the only mainland breeding colony in the world.

Yes, you can visit, observe and learn more about this at risk species by visiting the Royal Albatross Centre.  Birds mate for life and return to raise one chick every year between them.  Due to various challenges human intervention has proved to be necessary.   Chicks are carefully monitored and assisted with the least amount of stress as possible to enable them to continue spreading their enormous wing span of over three metres around the world.  Follow the drama, often hilarity and sometimes tragedy of the albatross breeding season on the Department of Conservations Royal Cam.

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin/Hoiho

Yellow Eyed Penguin/Hoiho and Little Blue Penguin/Kororā

I haven’t met many people that don’t find these quirky birds endearing.  Perhaps it is the comical way in which they waddle to and from the ocean on a daily basis, or the soap opera style lives they lead when it comes to finding, securing and keeping a mate!  Either way, I have no doubt that you will fall in love with either the Yellow Eyed Penguin/Hoiho and the world’s smallest penguin the Little Blue Penguin/Kororā, both of which can be found and observed on the Otago Peninsula.  Sadly, both species are threatened and at risk but the people of Dunedin don’t just sit idly by.  Initiatives like Penguin Place, a private conservation area rely solely on their tours to fund the conservation of the Yellow Eyed – including restoration of habitat, predator control and a rehabilitation centre for sick and injured birds.

An adult male and two juvenile male NZ Sealions, previously known as the Hooker’s Sea Lion.

 

New Zealand Fur Seal/Kekeno & New Zealand sea lion / rāpoka / whakahao

The New Zealand Fur Seal is sometimes mistaken for its larger neighbour the New Zealand Sea Lion, but there are some distinct differences that will help you identify which is which:

1. The fur seal is found in abundance all around the Otago peninsula, the sea lion is endangered with an albeit increasing, but much smaller population.

2.  The fur seal is distinctly smaller than the sea lion.

3.  Both male and female fur seals have a pointy nose unlike the sea lion.

4.  Seals prefer rocky outcrops to sunbathe, whereas sealions will often be seen lying on one of Dunedin’s many sandy beaches.

Recently there have been instances of the public attempting to interact with these animals, so if you are visiting Dunedin please take the time to read here about why you must leave them be, and tips on how to deal with an encounter with a sea lion. 

New Zealand Marine Studies Centre

It should come as no surprise, given that we live right on the doorstep of the South Pacific Ocean and that we are home to New Zealand’s first university, that we have a marine studies centre.  The New Zealand Marine Studies Centre is located at Portobello, a beautiful 20 minute drive from Dunedin city.

The University of Otago uses this as their practical base to conduct research, but also as a way to showcase local marine life and to educate.  The centre is no longer open to the public but during the ‘Wild Dunedin – New Zealand Festival of Nature‘, there are sessions open to the public where you can join a marine scientist to find out about marine food webs and who eats what in the ocean in ‘Wild Food Webs and Fishy Feasts.’ 

The reintroduction of Kaka at Orokonui Ecosanctuary is believed to be the first to the South Island mainland.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Across the harbour from the Otago Peninsula is another remarkable, locally led conservation project – the Orokonui Ecosanctuary.  Over 300 hectares of native New Zealand bush has been eradicated of predators and due to a predator proof fence is now home to an ever increasing population of native NZ birds, reptiles and plants.

The Ecosanctuary really is an example of what happens when a idea becomes a plan, and that plan becomes a reality.  Walking inside the gates of this impressive project feels very much like stepping back in time to what New Zealand would have been like prior to the arrival of humans.  Tui, Bellebird, Kaka, Takahe and Kiwi are some of the many birds who have been brought to live within this sanctuary and their numbers are on the up.

If you want to get up close and personal with NZ native birds, on their terms, this place is a must.  Plus, you’ll find a cafe, gift shop and plenty of educational resources available.  If you’re interested in finding out just what bird you are listening to, I found this fabulous resource from DOC that provides audio for some of the songs and calls of New Zealand birds.

This little guy was plucking his feathers out around a wound site, so staff decided a onesie would provide the solution to that problem, and it did!

The Wildlife Hospital

We have a Wildlife Hospital, and if that isn’t testament enough to our claims regarding being the wildlife capital, I don’t know what is.  I have not visited the hospital, so have taken this description from their website:

“The Wildlife Hospital is a partnership with Otago Polytechnic, and its School of Veterinary Nursing.  We’re also collaborating with many other organisations across the community, to create opportunities for education, training and research.

Before the hospital opened, sick or injured endangered species were flown to the North Island for treatment – a journey that seriously reduced their chances of pulling through. Animals that aren’t endangered were left to either fight for themselves, or were euthanased.

A quick, local response, maximises the survival rates of all native wildlife. Ultimately, we’ll be increasing animal populations right across the lower South Island.

Up to 80% of the native species in New Zealand are now under threat of extinction, and while there are many great initiatives to reduce predators and increase safe havens for these animals, there is a pressing need to save every single one we can – right now.  As habitats are slowly recovered, we need to make sure the animals are still in existence to populate them.”

A Southern Right Whale mother and calf. Photo courtesy of Steve Dawson from the University of Otago.

Southern Right Whale

When early settlers arrived in Otago they were kept awake at night by the noise created by Southern Right Whales who used the harbour as a natural nursery to safely birth their young. The name ‘right’ whale was given by the whalers who came here to hunt them as they were so easy to kill.  Our history with this beautiful animal is a very sad one, at one stage the population of this species due to commercial whaling operations was down to a couple of hundred animals – thankfully now that number is in the thousands.

As the whale population increases, so do sightings around Otago.  What used to be rare is now more common place as the animals take up their natural migratory routes and return to their ‘rightful’ (excuse the pun) place.  University of Otago researchers have been studying the population that lives near the Auckland Islands and this will no doubt continue to assist in understanding and protecting this recovering population.

Dunedin, Otago Peninsula & harbour

Well, there we have it, and there is so much more to say on this topic that I may have to revisit it!  I haven’t even mentioned the thousands of sea birds that nest along our rocky coastlines, the orca and dolphins that frequent our harbour, literally stopping traffic as people pull over in their vehicles trying to take a picture.  Take a look at the ‘Wild Dunedin – NZ Festival of Nature’ programme and see all the opportunities to immerse, educate and engage yourself in.   Ultimately in doing so you will help protect our precious taonga and we will be able to continue to call Dunedin, the Wildlife Capital of New Zealand.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

The increasingly popular trend of volunteer work at the University of Otago – what are the benefits?

I attended a career presentation last week, held by the University of Otago Career Development Centre that reported on the forecasts and trends in the international market when it came to AI (artificial intelligence) and robots and the impact that this technology would have on human careers.  One thing was abundantly clear, robots and AI will never replace the unique blend of characteristics and empathy that make us human.  Another notable mention was that the new intake of generation Z students at Otago, are very concerned about social responsibility, and motivated to making a difference to the world.  This semester the number of students volunteering through UniCrew, the University of Otago’s flagship volunteer programme, has reached an all-time high, and it’s student volunteer week this week, so let’s find out a bit more about what volunteering can do for you, the wider community and your CV!

UniCrew

UniCrew began in 2014, the idea behind it being that students get matched up with local organisations through volunteering and social impact opportunities.  This would then provide a way of connecting and engaging students with the wider community, building relationships around projects and subjects that matter and getting hands on experience outside of the university lecture theatres and classrooms .  Since then UniCrew has over 200 organisations registered with them, and they offer a range of long term, short term or micro one-off events that students can be involved in, plus they connect “every volunteering opportunity and community organisation to the United Nation’s global goals in the mission to leave the world at a better place by 2030. By measuring ourselves against these goals, we are able to measure our impact in the global context, find areas of development in which we can improve on and champion sustainable development by educating every young person and organisation in UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

What kind of volunteer work can I do?

There are so many options, whether you like the idea of getting outside and planting out trees like the UniCrew volunteers pictured above, or collecting donations for Dunedin’s Wildlife Hospital or be involved with the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust?  Or perhaps if you enjoy being around children sign up for the Reading Oasis programme, or the Garden to Table programme which teaches how to grow, harvest, prepare and share food.  Longer term, short term and one off options are available and it is the intrinsic benefits that you’ll feel that will probably be the most rewarding part of this kind of work.

Volunteer work on your CV

After attending the career presentation last week, and talking with University of Otago career advisors, it is clear that volunteering work is looked at very favourably from an employer perspective.  In many respects, volunteer work may be seen and used as a form of internship.  Let alone the fact that the connections that you make volunteering, around subjects and projects that interest you, may very well lead you straight into the path of a future employer.  Showing you are interested, giving your unpaid time to something you care about is showing initiative, social responsibility and it’s also giving you hands on experience outside of study.

Made with love

UniCrew got the call from O-Red, the student group associated with the Otago Red Cross the day after the Christchurch mosque attacks to ask “students and staff to bake, and write letters of support and thanks to Muslim and migrant families in Dunedin, and to Christchurch police and hospital staff – and they were overwhelmed by the response.

Manager of Otago’s Volunteer Centre Sze-En Watts says more than two cubic metres of baking was dropped off at OUSA Clubs and Societies building on Albany Street between 1pm and 7pm on Wednesday, as well as many letters and cards.”

Student Volunteer Week

So, if you’re interested in volunteering, or you just want to find out more about the mutual benefits it presents, the Student Volunteer fair is running today from 11am – 2pm at UniCrew Volunteers, 65 Albany Street, Dunedin, or find out more on the UniCrew website – it’s a win, win for everyone if you just take the time to find out more.

Credit to the UniCrew website and the Otago Bulletin Board for the quoted information in this blog

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

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Accommodation at Otago – where will I stay?

So, you’re thinking of being brave, adventurous and independent and leaving your home country to come and study at the University of Otago?  We love to see all the new and returning faces of our international students, and we also like to think that we can answer a few of the many questions you may have before you get on board that plane and take a leap of faith to come to our beautiful little corner of the world.  So today’s blog focuses on where you will live when you come here, we’ve got a few options to offer accommodation wise – it all depends on what kind of living experience you are looking for, so here we go!


University Flats (Uni Flats)

Uni Flats is probably our most popular option for international students.  Before I go any further I think a little translation of kiwi is necessary, a flat in New Zealand is actually accommodation, often a house like the one pictured above, which is shared with others.  These flats are very close to campus so you will be right in the heart of student life.  Each flatmate has their own bedroom with kitchen, bathroom, laundry and living areas as shared spaces.  So you’re living pretty independently, but you’re not alone.

The S1 2019 Uni Flats rowing team came third in the inter-college rowing competition.

Any full time international student who is coming to Otago for one or two semesters can apply to live in a Uni Flat.  Up to six international students live in a co-ed flat, accompanied by one or two kiwi hosts.  A kiwi host is a New Zealand student, who will help you settle in to your new environment and this is one of the best ways to assimilate into a culture – by hanging out with the locals!  These flats are extremely popular and are managed by the University, are autonomous but offer a supportive and pastoral care service, have plenty of recreational and social activities – so if you’re thinking of coming to Otago, make sure you apply as soon as possible.

Knox College

Residential Colleges

If you like the idea of having your breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared for you (sounds good to me), and enjoy meeting and living with lots of people, perhaps one of our residential colleges is what you need?  We have 15 residential colleges at Otago that accommodate 3,500 students and plans are afoot to build more!  There are so many different options, if you like the idea of a traditional, historic and architecturally impressive college, look no further than the castle like Knox College (pictured above) or Selwyn College.

Looking out across campus from Unicol

Or if you want to be right in the heart of campus St Margaret’s College is one to note, or take a look at the view from Unicol (University College) in the photo above – Unicol is our largest and possibly liveliest college.  We also understand that post-graduate students may also like the care provided by a college, but aren’t quite as interested in the social aspect so we have a designated post-graduate college – Abbey College.

Private, Short Term or Temporary Accommodation

If for whatever reason you’re not interested in flatting, or living in a college, or you’re just wanting to find private accommodation, or accommodation for a short time or you have any queries our international accommodation adviser from the University of Otago Accommodation Centre can offer advice – international.accommodation@otago.ac.nz.

Dunedin flats in general require a particular mention here, recently Sarah Gallagher, of the Dunedin Flat Names Project, and Dr Ian Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at the University of Otago, have collaborated together to create a visually appealing and witty book entitled ‘Scarfie Flats of Dunedin’ featuring a selection of well known and lesser known named flats – yes, students have named their flats.

And remember If past domestic and international student’s testimonials are anything to go by, the time you spend at Otago, outside of classes and laboratories will no doubt lead you to new experiences, opportunities, friendships and memories that will stay with you for your lifetime.  Many alumni lament and say……oh, those were the days……take me back to Otago……!

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

International Women’s Day – a look at the past, present and future of women at Otago.

International Women’s Day, the mere idea of this notion would have been considered ridiculous 150 years ago during the early days of Otago University.  I think it is important on a day like today for everybody – men and women, to remember the women that came before.  The women that literally paved the way for the women of today, and opened up doors that had been closed shut and bolted to women for time immortal.  Today’s blog focuses on just a couple of these remarkable women (there are so many to mention), from the past, the present and is a reminder for the future that whilst we are still not yet on an equal playing field, much has been done and the collective attitudes of men and women including perceptions and behaviour can make a difference to future generations.

Caroline Freeman

You just cannot go past a discussion on International Women’s Day at the University of Otago without mentioning Caroline Freeman.   In 1878 Caroline Freeman became the first matriculated woman to enrol at the University of Otago.  At this time she lived in Green Island, which in those days required her to walk 11 kilometres after lectures in a long dress, through muddy wet tracks.  Her health suffered as a result and she was forced to find accommodation in Dunedin.  Her academic environment also proved to be hostile with Professor of Classics G.S. Sale, known to be a ‘veritable ogre’ to female students.  A staff member once commented that had Freeman been a fighting man, rather an a studious woman, she would have been merited for her ‘pluck and perserverance.’  Caroline Freeman graduated in 1885, to a large applause with flowers thrown across the stage, and by the time of her capping 11 more women were enrolled at the university at different levels.   Recognition of her courage, perserverance and passion for education was highlighted when the University of Otago named one of their residential colleges after her – Caroline Freeman College.  

Emily Siedeberg

Next up on our list of those who paved the way is Emily Hancock Siedeberg.  From an early age her father believed she should train as a doctor, she accepted this and the pair went through the process of enrolling her.   Although the university council had already decided that medical training should be open to both women and men, her decision was certainly not celebrated – some showed enthusiasm while others were openly hostile.  The dean of the Otago Medical School Dr John Scott was reluctant, but alongside other staff accepted the university’s decision so that in April 1891 Emily became a medical student, graduating in 1896 as New Zealand’s first woman medical graduate.  During her time as a student she was told not to show her feelings, to keep men at a distance and not be frivolous.  She went on to complete a BSc, and did postgraduate work in obstetrics, gynaecology and children’s diseases.  In 1898 with considerable financial support from her father she registered as a medical practioner and set up private practice in Dunedin, which she maintained for the next 30 years.

Ethel Benjamin

Ethel Benjamin was New Zealand’s first woman lawyer – and we have to mention here that the University of Otago was the first university in Australasia to permit women to pursue a law degree – I don’t know about you, but permit?  Seriously?  It seems crazy now.  This really shows how much these women had to fight for what is taken as a given today.  Benjamin graduated with an Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in July 1897, and at her graduation she made the official reply on behalf of the graduands. This was the first time a current graduand rather than a past graduate had made the speech, and it was also the first occasion any woman had made an official speech at the university.

However the Otago District Law Society did not take kindly to a woman entering their male dominated profession.  Discrimation against her included restricted access to the society’s library, an attempt to propose an alternative dress code to the wig and gown, her complete exclusion from annual bar dinners and whereas young members were usually offered support, she received little.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Otago – Professor Harlene Hayne

It is 2019 and the year that the university celebrates 150 years of education and achievement.  When it comes to talking about present women at the University of Otago we cannot go past the fact that the Vice-Chancellor of our university is a woman.  Effectively she is at the top of the food chain here, well above my rank and station, so I decided that Professor Hayne could probably address her own thoughts on International Women’s Day herself, in her own words, this excerpt was taken from the VC’s Comment –  Issue 42. of the Otago Magazine:

Since my appointment as Vice-Chancellor in 2011, much has been made about my gender. I was the first woman to lead the Psychology Department at the University of Otago and the first woman to become a Deputy Vice-Chancellor. I am the first woman to be the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Otago and only the second woman to become a Vice-Chancellor in New Zealand.

Every time the issue of my gender is raised, however, it takes me by surprise. In the course of my own academic career, my gender has never been an issue. I have never felt that people have expected less of me because I am a woman, and I never felt that a glass ceiling prevented me from pursuing my goals and aspirations.

When I was growing up, my father used to tell me that girls could do anything. At Otago, I have certainly found that to be true. In this way, my own career has been remarkably gender blind.

But I recognise that the privilege of gender blindness is due, in part, to the historical period in which I live and to the places in which I have been lucky enough to grow up, study and work. I know too that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to those women who came before me.

As a university, we have a very proud history when it comes to women.

Dr Carla Meledandri

Dr Carla Meledandri from the Department of Chemistry is an expert in nanoscience, the world’s smallest particles, working at a scale of billionths of a metre.  But don’t be fooled by her tiny content, she and her colleagues are looking to tackle the world’s largest problems – ranging from dental decay to climate change.

“Pushing the boundaries of fundamental research is vital – taking what we have found and applying it to solve problems follows on.”

Her expertise in nanoscience, working at a scale of billionths of a metre, helped win her the 2017 Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize, the latest in a series of research awards.

Interdisciplinary collaborations with the Faculty of Dentistry have enabled the development of new materials designed to treat some of the causes of oral disease rather than the symptoms, hopefully leading to reduced costs and improving health worldwide.

The Future?

What about the women of the future?  The young women like the ones pictured above who are exploring the world, educating themselves and finding out what makes them tick?  Well, their future (and those of us who are somewhat further down the life journey) is down to all of us, men and women.  We must learn from the past – celebrate success, challenge stereotypes, support each other, don’t accept pay inequality and not settle for anything less than our male counterparts, and that takes all of us.  It’s all about balance.   Happy International Women’s Day!

Special note to Te Ara – the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand for much of the historical content.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

Top 7 eateries around Otago University!

Food, glorious food…..it is something we all need and hopefully enjoy, and no longer is today’s consumer happy with something that is bland, boring and and tasteless……today’s consumer demands fresh, innovative food and really good coffee……so what is available to you within 5 minutes of the University of Otago campus?  I went for a bit of a stroll today to let you see the food outlets that we think are worth a mention.

Te Mātiti

Te Mātiti is the University of Otago’s new kid on the block.  It is located in the newly refurbished Otago Business School, and offers a range of food and coffee prepared by the University Union, our in house catering and food suppliers.  It’s a pretty awesome space within the large open plan ground floor of the business school and large glass windows that look out to the Leith river below make it feel light and airy – plus, they’re a friendly bunch that work here.  The University of Otago operations manager was recently awarded  a special He Toki award for introducing bilingual signage so that you can order your coffee in te reo – from a mowai (flat white) to a ratei tiai (chai latte) at Te Mātiti and seven of the nine cafes on campus!  Ka pai!

Sushi Station

Slightly reluctantly the lovely owner of Sushi Station agreed to let me take his picture……he is always on hand with a smile and to open the door for you, and ensures that there is a steady stream of food coming from the busy kitchen.  Sushi Station is located on Albany Street, directly opposite our central library and popular choices to takeaway include rice balls, bento boxes, dumplings and pokē bowls.  But if you’re wanting something a little more substantial, they have a hot menu that, not that we are into naming names, is very popular with Highlanders Rugby Team and the Volts (our cricket team) players and management and you will often see them dining in at Sushi Station.  The decor is cute, with little flower boxes in the window and the queue often extends out onto the footpath, a clear sign this little business is a winner.

Formosa Delight

Like quite a few things in our little city, Formosa Delight is a very humble looking little cafe from the outside – but do not let this appearance deceive you.  Staff and students alike flock to this little cafe in Albany Street that serves up predominantly vegan or vegetarian Taiwanese food.  The herbs, salad greens, kale and garlic chives are grown by owner Beatrice Lin (pictured here) in her large organic garden, the eggs are from her free range hens, plus all the food served by Beatrice and her husband is made from scratch.  I have had the pleasure of dining here and I can definitely recommend paying this quiet little eatery a visit.

Fluid Espresso

This is another favourite for staff and students, just a block from campus and you’ll find this little stunner.  Again, another passionate group of people at Fluid Espresso making the food predominantly from scratch with super fresh ingredients.  INCREDIBLE cabinet selection of beautiful sweet treats, but also a really good range of fresh salads, wraps and bagels.  Pictured here are their smoothies, and if you’re a coffee drinker apparently these guys know how to make a good brew.  They also stock a few small gift items and the space is beautifully decorated and accessorised without being intimidating.  Again, awesome and friendly service.

Dispensary Cafe

One of Dunedin’s little hidden gems, this tiny cafe could easily be missed if you didn’t know it was there, but the locals know all about it and you’ll see a busy line of people buzzing in and out throughout the day.  Again located on Albany Street, the Dispensary Cafe is fresh, great scones (apparently you have to get in early) and slices, light and airy and by all reports provides great coffee……I am not a coffee drinker so I can only go on the feedback of others – my colleagues in the office next door are hooked on the stuff, so if they go there, it must be good.

Food Trucks

You’ll find a range of food trucks in Dunedin both on campus and dotted around the city, including these guys ‘Jian bing’ who serve a Chinese savoury crepe, they’re neighbours to ‘Rising Sun Dumplings’ whose $6 for five pork or vegetarian dumplings and fried rice have fuelled many a student during their time at Otago.  Plus, Hussey & Laredo are currently around the corner in their sunny yellow caravan and serve up coffee, and locally sourced produce to make their gorgeous haloumi bagels amongst other things.  Citizens Food Truck regularly parks up on the museum reserve serving bao buns and loaded fries – yup they’re loaded alright, with cheese or gravy.

The Good Earth Cafe

Another little cafe that attracts the staff and students of the university, the Good Earth Cafe is housed in a typically Dunedin styled old historic building.   Once again this cafe provides a warm, friendly vibe and offers a range of organic, free range and made from scratch food.  It has little tables for days like today when the sun is shining and provides a comforting country style/home atmosphere with vases of fresh flowers laid out on the mismatched vintage wooden chairs and tables.

So there you have it, the top 7 places to eat around campus, but don’t take our word for it, try them yourself.  We have only scratched the surface on eateries in Dunedin, and we will take you on another food journey in a later blog, but rest assured if you are a student or staff member at the University of Otago there is a range of options to satisfy whatever your taste buds are after.

Thanks to Dunedinnz.com for imagery and content on Formosa Delight.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

 

Recreation at Otago = Unipol.

If you’re new to the University of Otago you will hear people talking about Unipol.  No, it’s not some undercover university police operation……Unipol is a very weird name…..it is an amalgamation of the university and the polytechnic and it doesn’t give you any idea of what it is all about….. but let’s not worry about the name, I don’t think it will be changing anytime soon, let’s focus on what Unipol is all about, because there is a LOT to talk about!

What is Unipol?

Unipol is the University of Otago’s recreation centre.  And it is some centre. Unipol Recreation Services offers a huge choice of recreational activities, including cardio and weights, sports halls, group fitness, outdoor rental, social sport and outdoor adventures.  Unipol is all about balancing your studies and keeping a smile on your face.

Prior to 2011, Unipol was housed in an awesome old art-deco building just a 5-minute walk from campus, but the demand for a bigger, and more up to date facility saw the creation of this amazing building, which is also home to the UOLCFY (University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year) and right next to New Zealand’s only covered stadium – Forsyth Barr Stadium.  Our stadium raises the roof by hosting international sporting events, including our famous All Blacks, and a range of world class entertainment, including Pink, Kendrik Lamar, Elton John (who loved it so much here he’s coming back on his final tour) and Ed Sheeran.

Who can use Unipol?

Entry into the Unipol Recreation Services is free for University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic students with presentation of their ID card.

It is also available for use by University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic staff and their whānau and friends.

 University approved recreation providers

Get in touch with your inner explorer, venture beyond campus and experience the natural beauty that Dunedin has to offer with a variety of outdoor adventures from local University approved recreation providers. Be sure to use your valid student ID card to get special student discounts!

Surfing

This mobile surf school based at The Esplanade, St Clair Beach, offer learn to surf sessions for beginners through to advanced lessons for those wanting to extend their local knowledge. Your wave is waiting!

Esplanade Surf School

Walks

A variety of walking excursions around Dunedin, the peninsula and surrounding coast lines. You will come across plenty of wildlife so bring your camera!

Untamed NZ Tour Company

Dunedin Adventures Ltd

Mountain biking

Love mountain biking? From sandy beaches to native forests Dunedin, and it’s surrounding area, have some amazing tracks to be explored.

Offtrack MTB Tours

Windsurfing/SUP

Experience the exhilaration and fun of windsurfing and/or stand up paddle boarding (SUP) on the beautiful Otago Harbour. It’s sure to blow your hair back!

Watercooled Sports

Ice hockey

Learn to play ice hockey, focusing on skating, puck handling, passing and shooting while having loads of fun.

Dunedin Ice Hockey

Sea kayaking

Picture yourself in a sea kayak cruising amongst Otago’s coastal wildlife while paddling around the beautiful Otago Peninsula. Get ready to see the unexpected.

Wild Earth Adventures

Rock climbing

Take a break from your study with a rock climbing adventure. Choose between an introduction course or advance your skills with some lead climbing!

Dunedin Adventures Ltd

Unipol staff – they’re a good bunch

This is Dan and Liz, two of the team that take care of all things Unipol and they are good sorts – they are pretty funny, smile a lot and enjoy life.  It’s probably because they follow their own advice and know how good exercise makes you feel, and I’m guessing they do a fair bit of it.  So take their advice, go into Unipol and see what you can find to put a smile on your dial.

Thanks to the Unipol website for providing a lot of the information contained in this blog.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

Orientation at Otago – a snapshot!

Whether you are a new or returning student one thing you all have in common is the chance to be involved in the celebrations, events and information sessions that make up the University of Otago Orientation Week!  From attending the Convocation Ceremony – the official and formal welcome to all first year students, to making the most of the star-studded line up of performances, there are plenty of opportunities for you to immerse yourself into the Otago culture and surroundings and along the way meet some like minded people.

Student Village and Tent City

This year we are running a Student Village on campus alongside Tent City in the Museum Reserve from Monday the 18th Feburary through until Wednesday the 20th.

Find out about all the services, support and other opportunities offered by the University including:

Staff from StudyLink will also be in attendance.

University Collegiate Sports Day

During orientation week first-year students from residential colleges, Uni Flats, and the Locals programme meet en masse in a collegiate sports day, complete with chants, flags and uniform t-shirts, to participate in a fun-filled afternoon of social sport.

This is the chance to cement newly formed friendships and get involved in some healthy competition. Sports include touch, netball, soccer and volleyball.

Need some tips on how to succeed at Otago?

Along with course advice available throughout the week, there are also other information sessions aimed at helping you understand what university academic standards and expectations are, and how you can succeed!  Including sessions on how to transition into university successfully,  points for international students on how to succeed academically at Otago, and if you are an international student you musn’t miss our official welcome and lunch, on Wednesday the 20th February, the food and the kapa-haka performance are always a hit!

OUSA Clubs Day

OUSA has a crazy amount of opportunites for you to try something new, meet new people or perhaps get together with students who have also come here to study from your home country.  With over 160 affiliated clubs and societies on campus you really can’t complain about a lack of options.   Head to Clubs Day on Thursday 21st February to find your fit!

Looking to be entertained?

If you’re looking for pure adrenalin, big crowds and fun, there are a variety of events to choose from, including performances from big name DJ’s and bands (the image above was taken at last year’s orientation) at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, NZ’s only covered stadium, and just a 5 minute walk from campus.  And as the picture below shows you, yes, the famous Toga Party still lives on.  And if you’re a lover of food, don’t miss the International Food Festival on Sunday the 25th of February, a huge array of delectable delights from around the world are on offer for you to try.

So, what’s our advice to you?  Get involved, try something new, literally be like a sponge and soak it all up.  There are so many choices for recreation, new experiences, study advice and general help available to you, and we like to think we are a friendly bunch of people so always ask if you’re unsure!  Enjoy this special time in your life, as the text in the photo at the top of the blog says it’s a “once in a lifetime experience.”

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!