Report urges better care for first-year students after Canterbury University death

A report on the death of a student who lay dead in campus accommodation for up to a month has called for greater levels of care for first-year students.

The body of 19-year-old Mason Pendrous was found in Canterbury University's Sonada hall of residence on September 23 last year.

The university commissioned former High Court judge Kit Toogood to inquire into his death.

In his recommendations Toogood said Campus Living Villages, which runs Sonada, should consider requiring regular face-to-face contact between resident assistants and students.

He also said students should be required to inform Sonada if they planned to be absent for a period of time.

In findings released in December last year, a coroner had found Pendrous died some time between August 26 and September 10 in his room.

He was unable to determine the cause of death due to decomposition of the teenager's body.

Pathologist Christopher Lawrence had said Pendrous' heart appeared normal, but he could not exclude some form of cardiac arrhythmia.

In response to the death, vice-chancellor of the university, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, had said a buddy system for first year students would be introduced this year, and an early alert system aimed at identifying students who needed more support.

A new mandatory code will also come into effect, meaning universities and polytechs would face a $100,000 fine if they are found to be responsible for the serious harm or death of students in their care.