Victoria University is pushing ahead with the controversial sale of its Karori campus, inking a deal to sell the ageing property for retirement homes.

The Ministry of Education transferred the campus to the university for just $10 in 2014.

But the university has since decided it was "surplus to requirements" and put it on the market. It has an estimated worth of $20 million.

The successful bidder has now been revealed as Ryman Healthcare, which plans to convert the land and buildings into a retirement village.

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It will have independent and serviced apartments, as well as a care centre.

There's no word on how much Ryman Healthcare paid.

Victoria vice-chancellor Professor Grant Guilford said all bids were assessed against community outcomes and commercial arrangements.

The university said it didn't get any offers for the campus buildings from public sector organisations.

However, there had been a well-publicised dispute between the university and the Ministry of Education, which wanted to buy the campus land.

In October this year, the university said it hadn't received any "workable offers" from the ministry.

Ryman group development manager Andrew Mitchell said they were delighted to secure the site.

"It is an iconic site in the city's largest suburb and we're pleased it will continue to be a significant community asset for the city.

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Mitchell said he expected the community would be interested in the development plans, so Ryman would be consulting with locals, community groups, Heritage New Zealand and local iwi.

The university said the money from the sale would be used for strengthening its remaining buildings, and for ensuring modern facilities for its Faculty of Education in the future.

The sale comes after the Herald revealed last month that because the campus was being sold within five years of the transfer from the government, the university should have been obligated to pay 20 per cent of its profits back to the Crown.

However, former Finance Minister Steven Joyce and former Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment minister Paul Goldsmith decided to give the university an exemption.

Victoria University chief operating officer Mark Loveard said a letter from the former ministers wished the university well in its endeavours to make use of its assets to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff.

The move to sell has been consistently criticised, including some who claimed the university was only selling because of pressure from long-term underfunding.