Exam underway after student found dead in his room on first day of new semester

A review is underway after a student was found dead in her room on the first day of the new semester.

The Lincoln University of Canterbury student was found dead in the halls of residence on Monday. The university had its mid-year break from June 27 to July 15. Semester 2 started on Monday.

The student’s death is not being considered suspicious and will be forwarded to the coroner, a police spokesman said. Police were unable to say how long she was dead before her body was found.

The student is thought to have been in her late teens and first year of school.

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Wednesday, Things sent a series of questions to the university, including how long it had been since the university had last spoken to the student and what processes were in place to check on students during the vacation period.

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In response, the University of Lincoln’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Grant Edwards, said the student’s death was being investigated by police and therefore unable to to provide additional information at this stage.

“Findings from the investigation will help inform our own review, which has already begun.

“Lincoln University is a tight-knit community, and we are doing everything we can to care for the safety and well-being of our students. We continue to support the student’s bereaved parents and family.

Lincoln University has seven fully equipped residence halls, all owned and operated by the university. Each hall has at least one housing assistant living on site.

University of Lincoln students Katie Richardson, left, Livvie Rhodes and Jessica Upston say they feel well supported by pastoral care.


University of Lincoln students Katie Richardson, left, Livvie Rhodes and Jessica Upston say they feel well supported by pastoral care.

The students met by Things on Wednesday, they said they were “shocked” to learn of the death of a student.

Jessica Upston, 18, who is a freshman in college and lives in the halls, said she has always felt well supported by pastoral care.

“If we haven’t scanned anywhere within 24 hours, we get a text or a phone call, and they also check the rooms quite frequently,” she said.

Katie Richardson, 18, felt the same way.

“If there was anyone I needed to talk to, I think there would be people there. We are checked regularly.

“It was a shock to hear what happened. I still think about it, like I don’t know her personally, but it still hit me, it was someone our age” , Richardson said.

Caleb Donaldson, 19, said they were “never short of someone to talk to” in the hallways.

“If I were to reach out, I know where to go, it’s easy to get to,” he said.

Earlier, the statutory body representing the country’s universities had “categorically” rejected the fact that none of New Zealand’s universities had implemented the Code of Pastoral Care following the death of a student at Canterbury.

In response to the student’s death, Greens Higher Education spokeswoman Chlöe Swarbrick said questions to the Education and Labor Selection Committees revealed that none of the eight universities had implemented the pastoral code.

Caleb Donaldson, 19, says he would know where to go if he were to reach out to anyone.


Caleb Donaldson, 19, says he would know where to go if he were to reach out to anyone.

The code was extended and updated after the death of Mason Pendrous. Pendrous had been dead for almost a month when he was found in his room at the University of Canterbury’s Sonoda Village on September 23, 2019.

On Wednesday, Universities New Zealand chief executive Chris Whelan said the student’s death was “felt across the sector”.

“We categorically reject the claim that none of the universities have implemented the Pastoral Code which came into effect on January 1, 2022.”

All the universities indicated that they were compliant in “most areas of the code”.

“Where they are still working, as the code allows, individually or collectively, to implement certain outstanding aspects, it mainly concerns new requirements to gather and report publicly on their performance in areas such as complaint resolution, the voice of the students and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Universities were providing the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, as administrator of the code, with regular reports on progress made in closing these remaining gaps, he said.

“To date, there has been no suggestion that progress is insufficient or that the outstanding shortcomings create an undue risk to the safety and well-being of students.”

An inquest into the student's death is ongoing.  (File photo)


An inquest into the student’s death is ongoing. (File photo)

Swarbrick said his argument was that things have to keep getting better.

“Categorically, none of the eight universities have fully implemented the new pastoral code of conduct. They have said so publicly, as has the NZQA and the minister is aware of this during the annual review hearings.

“Of course things have improved since the Student Housing Survey and the new Code. No one denies that, let alone me as someone who has fought to push for higher standards and compliance.

“The fact remains that there is still a long way to go in understanding – publicly and transparently – precisely where each university is on implementation and its path to full compliance. Until that happens, our institutions are still not meeting the standards that were supposed to be in place seven months ago,” Swarbrick said.

In 2019, Education Minister Chris Hipkins introduced the Bill to Amend the Pastoral Education Bill after Pendrous’ death.


Green Party Higher Education Spokesperson Chloe Swarbrick reveals the findings of the popular survey of student wellbeing to the media.

His death sparked a major overhaul at UC and an independent investigation by former High Court judge Kit Toogood QC, which found the company that runs Sonoda, Campus Living Villages (CLV), did not hunt concerns over Pendrous’ academic commitment and left no staff. on site after an organizational restructuring.

Eve McMahon, deputy chief executive of quality assurance at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), said the authority was collecting information to understand what happened in relation to the death at Lincoln University, but had no concerns about the progress made in the universities in implementing the Pastoral Code.

“All eight universities are implementing the code to the extent that they have conducted gap analyzes and identified some gaps in practice against the new requirements that they are working to address,” McMahon said.

“These relate to strengthening the voice of the learner and a holistic approach to provider pastoral care – processes which by their nature will take larger organizations longer to implement well and are likely to be an area of ‘continuous review and improvement.’

Things approached each of the eight universities in the country to obtain comments on the Pastoral Code.

University of Waikato student services director Mike Calvert said much of what was in the code was already in place at the university.

“The university has undertaken many initiatives since the code came into effect as part of our program of continuous improvement in learner well-being and safety.”

Initiatives included the adoption of a mental health first aid training program that equipped participants with the skills needed to support someone experiencing “a mental health challenge or crisis”.

Five university facilitators were trained to deliver the course covering mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and problematic substance use, and mental health crises, including trauma, psychosis and uncontrolled self-harm. suicidal. By 2023, nearly 300 university staff will have completed the program.

University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor David Murdoch said they were “highly compliant” with the code.

“The vast majority of the code relates to things the university already had in place, including at our residential colleges and in supporting international students, and has been done in most cases for many years.”

University of Canterbury director of student welfare Gilbert Taurua said the university had made early changes in line with the interim code.

“The changes included increased measures for care at the 10 UC-affiliated student residences. UC also implemented a new success framework focused on the transition from high school to college.

Having already implemented changes before and in line with the interim code, there were only minor changes after government updates to the pastoral code in 2022, Taurua said.

“UC offers many student support services and a wellness center is centrally located on the Te Pātaka campus.”

A spokesperson for Auckland University of Technology (AUT) said it has services and programs in place to deal with all elements of the code.

“Our most recent student feedback survey indicates that 88% of AUT students would recommend the University and 83% are satisfied with student services.

“We are not complacent and continue to listen to our student body whom we meet weekly, and work to improve our services, in accordance with the code of practice.”

A spokesperson for Victoria University of Wellington said the university had made “considerable efforts” to implement the code.

A gap analysis was carried out at the end of 2021, which showed that the University was already 95% compliant with the Code. Work streams and projects were put in place at the end of 2021 to fill the gaps identified.