The University of Otago is completing the purchase of City College, a student accommodation facility in Cumberland Street that currently houses both Otago Polytechnic and Otago University students.


The 210-bed apartment-style facility was founded and run by the Dunedin City Tertiary Accommodation Trust. This decision will lead to the winding up the Trust, which has agreed on the process for the sale. As a result, the University will take over full ownership and management of the College in January 2018.


Late last year the Trust’s board wrote to its staff to advise that Otago Polytechnic and the University were considering the current ownership structure for City College. This came as both institutions considered the impact of the construction and commissioning of Otago Polytechnic’s own dedicated student accommodation residence at Logan Park, planned to begin taking students in early 2018.


City College, opened in 2000, comprises 37 apartments, mostly with six bedrooms and some with four or five bedrooms. The purchase of the College will provide 70 extra beds for the University, as this is the number of beds currently allocated to Polytechnic students. University of Otago students already occupy most of the beds at City College.


Director Campus and Collegiate Life Services James Lindsay sees the purchase as a positive move that fits with the long-term goals of the University.


“We plan to use the space to increase our capacity for scholarship students. We have an increasing need in this area, and City College fits well with our goal to provide an outstanding residential college environment and student experience that will complement scholarly excellence,” he says.


“It will also provide additional decant space that will allow the University to continue to upgrade other colleges in the near future.”


Mr Lindsay says the University has a strong and positive relationship with the Polytechnic, “and our joint affiliation with them at City College over the years has helped to cement this.”


Otago Polytechnic’s Chief Operating Officer, Philip Cullen, agrees, and says the time is right for the Polytechnic to move on from City College.


“Our state-of-the-art Student Village is under construction, which will provide 231 beds for our students when it opens early in 2018,” he says.


“It’s our own facility in the heart of our Polytechnic campus, so it makes sense for us to focus our energies there.”


Six permanent staff are employed at City College. Impacts on those staff will be worked through by the Trust, the University and the staff.


Mr Lindsay says the Trust understands the uncertainty that this type of announcement can have, although it is the intention of the Trust, the Otago Polytechnic and the University, for the transition process to be as transparent as possible.


“We expect that the process of transition over to full management and ownership will run very smoothly,” he says.