Rachel Tan - “A Tour Around the Oldest University in New Zealand ”


Rachel Tan

Rachel is a PhD candidate at the Higher Education Development Centre, University of Otago. She likes to meet people and is a big fan of nature and photography.

Last year, I joined a tour, organised by Lizzy Lukeman from the alumni office, to learn more about the University of Otago. The tour started with a little history of the university, which was the first university in New Zealand. It was founded in 1869 and started with three professors and 81 students. The university has since grown, whereby today, it has more than 22,000 students, 1,500 academic and research staff and 2,000 general staff. From the tour, I learnt about the various facilities and interesting architectural design, and enjoyed a different perspective on the campus.


The first highlight was the getting to know the university’s student association, the Otago University Student Association (OUSA). It represents the voice of students in the university and provides different services to enhance student’s life at the campus. Lizzy showed us to the radio station and the office of student magazine, Critic, managed by OUSA. Then, we went to the OUSA’s building that serves $3 hot lunch during the academic year. The building also houses students’ recreational activities such as classes for yoga, dancing, cooking and a sauna room.


The next highlight is the interesting architectural design, particularly the university’s iconic Clocktower. The Clocktower is the main administration building that overlooks the Leith River. Beside the main entrance of the Clocktower is a boot scraper hole. The hole was used in the early days to scrap off the mud from the river banks. At the Clocktower, we visited the grand-looking Council Chamber. Another interesting building is the Archway near the Clocktower. There are two figures seated above the Archway, one with a globe to represent Humanities and another with numeracy paper to represent Sciences. Then, beyond these figures, there are smaller gargoyles circling the two main pillars, each representing the different departments of the university.