Otago Polytechnic originally started in 1870 when Dunedin School of Art opened. The Dunedin School of art is the oldest department in the polytechnic sector. The Dunedin Technical School was opened in 1889. The name was changed to King Edward Technical school in 1914. The Otago Polytechnic formally came into existence on 22 May 1989. At present, there are more than 9200 students and 750 full time and part-time staff.
Otago has its campuses in Dunedin and Central Otago. The campus for international students is located in Auckland. Classes are taught in English. As of 2017, it had 1952 international students. Te Pā Tauira - Otago Polytechnic Student Village, at its Dunedin campus provides accommodation for students. It also offers student exchange programs summer and winter internships.