Revealed: The university halls that have kicked out the most students

Newshub can reveal Otago University has kicked out more problem students over the last 10 years than any other university in the country.

Fifty-eight students have been evicted by halls owned or managed by Otago since 2008.

Twenty-three expulsions were for drug possession. There were a further 11 for sexual misconduct, one of which led to a criminal charge.

Men are mostly to blame, with 48 evictions. Only 10 women were given the boot.

Otago University's accommodation can house up to 3482 students. It denied Newshub's request for an interview.

Otago expulsions
Photo credit: Newshub.

Newshub asked every university in New Zealand to release the number of evictions from Halls of Residence owned or managed by the university since 2008. Every university released its numbers except the University of Canterbury.

How did your university compare?

Auckland University booted out 29 students over the last 10 years. Reasons include smoking in accommodation, disabling a smoke detector and illegal drugs. There are 3299 students using the accommodation this year.

Over the same time period Auckland University of Technology had five expulsions. Three were women. Drug possession and mental health problems were the reasons given by the university.

Victoria University in Wellington has kicked out 17 students since 2010. One male was referred to police for violent criminal offending against another student, while another was charged with wilful damage.

Victoria University.
Victoria University. Photo credit: Getty

Lincoln University has had 12 expulsions and six suspensions since 2008. One case involving the misuse of drugs was dealt with under the Police diversion scheme. The police also laid criminal charges in a case involving offensive and unwanted behaviour.

Waikato University got rid of five people since 2011. All were male. One was evicted for activating the fire alarms, being aggressive to staff and continually breaking rules.

Massey University in Auckland and Palmerston North have had no problem students since 2014, however Massey's Wellington campus kicked out one student due to "extreme antisocial behaviour - a threat to himself and others".

Canterbury University denied Newshub's request of information, saying: "The university does not receive records on evictions or suspensions from the Halls. As such, this request is refused… the information does not exist."

uni expulsions
Photo credit: Newshub.

Universities New Zealand executive director Chris Whelan told Newshub it can be challenging for students when they move into a new environment.

"Evictions are the last thing that a university would want to do. Our first goal is to always provide help to students, to give warnings in the first instance - but an eviction is the very last thing you'd do," he said.

"As you'd expect, it's for a very tiny minority of students - less than 0.2 percent of all students in halls of residence - and it's only for perhaps the only extreme sort of behaviours.

"For many young people, it's their first chance to live away from home and experience all the things that happen when you live away from home for the first time. Often it's about helping these young people - [it's their] first time with alcohol, first time living with strangers, first time often coping with an academic environment."

What the students say

According to a recent New Zealand Union of Students Associations (NZUSA) survey, students mostly considered dropping out of university because of sexual harassment within halls of residence and constantly feeling unsafe.

"Who respondents lived with and satisfaction with their living situation was found to have a significant impact on their psychological distress and levels of depression, stress and anxiety," said spokesperson Marlon Drake, who isn't impressed with the numbers.

He told Newshub there could be other ways to deal with problem students.

"While some students do misbehave - and for some it's a pretty big part of growing up - I don't necessarily think they should be flat-out excluded.

"There are other options that can take place, for example restorative justice processes, so we can actually teach our young people about what is right [and] what is wrong if they do not know what the answer is. Generally most students are well-behaved."

He says to reduce the number of people evicted, the wellbeing and mental health of students needs to be looked at.

"Having a strong community with a high level of wellbeing and positive mental health throughout the community means your community will stick together and generally look after each other.

"That's a really big part of this. If you don't have that support there, what you start to see is a bit of a breakdown in the community and it does not surprise me it would result in expulsion."

Mental health

Two students were shown the door due to mental health reasons. In 2016, Massey University Wellington evicted a male due to "extreme antisocial behaviour - a threat to himself and others". Auckland University of Technology did the same in 2017 for "mental health, impact on self and community".

Green Party Youth and Mental Health spokesperson Chloe Swarbrick has been speaking with students about mental health.

"One of the biggest things that's come up is an awareness or a stigma around mental health issues and so many students encountering the line or trope [that] this is just the stress of student life and they should just get on with it, meaning some people feel as if they have to escalate in order to get help. All of these things are massive systemic and cultural issues that we really have to confront and tackle.

"I do think particularly around the stuff around sexual violence and assault, things need to be taken incredibly seriously. But I would also say that if people do get expelled from their halls that they are followed with the requisite support and not just end up falling through the gaps."

Where to get help
Photo credit: Newshub.

Where to find help and support: