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Before You Arrive at Otago

If you’re preparing to come to Otago, this page gives you a bit of an overview of the IT Services provided by the University, and what you might want to know before you arrive.

What the University of Otago Provides

Free Software
You don’t need to purchase Microsoft Office or an Antivirus program for your computer as you can get these at no cost – see Office 365 and Antivirus sections below for more info.

Student Computer Access
Any student can use a Student Desktop computer in one of the Student Computer Areas or University Libraries. A wide range of basic software is provided, as well as any programs required for your courses. Most of the Student Desktop computers use Windows, but Macs are provided in some areas.

Printing, scanning and photocopying are available in Libraries and Computer Areas. There is a charge for printing, but scanning is free.

All students can access the Internet via Wifi across the campus.


Office 365
You don’t need to buy Microsoft Office for your computer because all students of the University of Otago get Office365 for free while they are a student. You get 5 licences to install Office on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet or phone. Your Office 365 licence includes the following on all platforms:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • Powerpoint
  • Outlook
  • OneNote
  • Office 365 online
  • OneDrive cloud storage

See our Office 365 page for more information.

You don’t need to pay extra to get an antivirus program for your computer. Windows comes with Windows Defender, a full-featured antivirus program that is approved for use on the University network. Macs do not come with an antivirus program installed, but at Student IT we can recommend a free antivirus that suits your needs and protects your computer.
Antivirus programs can be confusing, so we are always available to provide advice or answer any questions you might have.

Buying a Laptop

Tablets and Chromebooks are inexpensive and have their uses, but if you are serious about writing essays, buy a laptop.
Buying a new laptop can be a big decision. There are many articles out there on the web providing advice on what laptop to buy for University. This list is intended to give you an idea of what to consider, so that you can make an informed choice. We can’t review laptops or provide advice on specific models. Please also check out our information above to see what resources the University already provides.

Think about how you will likely use your laptop:

  • Will you be carrying it with you all day or will you leave it in your room, perhaps taking a smaller tablet to classes? Choose your laptop weight, battery life and screen size based on your intended use.
  • Will you be typing essays on it, do you have a separate desktop computer, or do you want to use the University computer rooms? A tiny keyboard and screen might get tedious after typing a few thousand words!
  • Will you use your computer only for studying or do you like to play games? A standard laptop is suitable for word processing, internet and skype, but gaming usually requires a more powerful computer.


  • Do you want to get a separate mouse? Would you like a light, portable keyboard for your tablet? Perhaps a separate monitor to hook your laptop up to when working in your room.
  • How will you be backing up? If you’re not backing up all your work to the cloud (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive) then you will definitely want to get an external hard-drive. Ideally you should use both.


  • Although you don’t need to buy the most expensive computer, you don’t want to buy the cheapest one either – better spec computers with newer components will last longer before becoming obsolete.
  • If you’re looking up advice online, make sure you look at recent articles from the last few months to make sure you are getting up to date advice

Mac vs Windows:

  • Both Mac and Windows computers are fine to use at the University of Otago. The choice is a matter of preference – consider what features you want, your budget and which system you prefer.