One of the nation’s largest student accommodation providers is selling its services in Christchurch, two years after a student died in one of its rooms for four weeks before being discovered.
Sydney based Campus Living Villages (CLV) sold its real estate assets to Australian fund management company Cedar Pacific, which hired UniLodge to manage the accommodation operations.
CLV made headlines in September 2019 following the death of University of Canterbury (UC) student Mason Pendrous, whose body was not discovered in CLV accommodation for up to four weeks.
His death sparked a major UC overhaul and an independent investigation by former High Court Judge Kit Toogood QC, who found that CLV had not allayed concerns about Pendrous’ academic engagement and had left no staff behind after an organizational restructuring.
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Rumors CLV was considering a sale of its Christchurch home emerged in early May, but at the time the company said Thing he had “long term relationships and leases with a number of educational institutions in New Zealand” and was “committed to these partnerships and to supporting the students who live with us”.
A spokesperson said: “We do not comment on our trade agreements.”
However, on Friday, CLV confirmed the sale of the accommodation which included 1,551 beds in three residences, including Uni Hall, Ilam Apartments and the Sonoda campus.
A spokesperson for CLV said it was proposed that UniLodge officially take over from October 29.
CLV Group CEO and Managing Director John Schroder said the company would work with Cedar Pacific, UniLodge and the university to ensure “a smooth transition for residents and staff.”
A spokesperson for the University of Canterbury said no role at the university was affected by the purchase contract. Questions on operational matters were forwarded to CLV and Cedar Pacific.
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In October 2019, Education Minister Chris Hipkins introduced Bill to Amend the Education Pastoral Bill, in response to the death of the 19-year-old.
Speaking in April 2020, UC Vice-Chancellor Cheryl de la Rey said Pondrous’s death was “tragic” and something she will not forget.
CLV moved to New Zealand in 2005, signing its first lease with Massey University.
It hosts more than 35,000 students around the world, including in Auckland, Dunedin, Palmerston North and Wellington, as well as in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
CLV operates the Te Åhanga Village at Massey University in Auckland and ManawatÅ« Halls in Palmerston North and the Otago Polytechnic Student Village in Dunedin.
In June, Victoria Wellington University announced that it would end its relationship with CLV.
The university will take over the management of two of its halls of residence, Te Puni Village and Everton Hall, early next year at the end of existing contracts.
After the death of Pendrous, Thing spoke to CLV employees who said a series of restructurings had eroded the company’s workforce in Christchurch and it was only a matter of time before a serious incident happened.
A former director of CLV, who oversaw the Halls for several years, says he resigned around 2011 because he did not want his name “to be associated with a disaster”.
Pendrous’ stepfather Anthony Holland said Thing he was “happy and relieved” that changes had been implemented at the university.
The University of Canterbury Student Association has been approached for comment.