The University of Otago (Māori: Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo) in Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest university with over 22,000 students enrolled during 2010.
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.
Otago graduates are among the most dispersed university alumni in the world, due in part to New Zealand being considered a relatively good destination by many Asian students and with the greater variety of jobs, opportunities and salaries on offer overseas for New Zealand students graduating from an established university. Many graduates ultimately settle in Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the United States, China, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Japan, Singapore or parts of New Zealand beyond Otago. Otago is known for its student life, particularly its flatting. The nickname Scarfie comes from the habit of wearing a scarf during cold southern winters.