The University of Canterbury says it's "inconceivable to imagine" how a student's body lay unnoticed in student accommodation for nearly two months.

On Monday evening, the body of a male student was discovered at the university's Sonoda Christchurch Campus accommodation.

The circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear, however a police disaster identification team (DVI) was called in to investigate.

DVIs examine human remains for fingerprints, DNA and dental records to confirm an identity.

Advertisement

Meanwhile, Education Minister Chris Hipkins called for a "thorough investigation" following the discovery.

But tonight, the university's vice chancellor, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, said it was a "distressing time" for all involved.

"We are devastated by what has happened and extend our deepest sympathy to the family.

"Despite the comprehensive pastoral care programmes in place, for us it is inconceivable to imagine how these circumstances could have occurred.

"We understand that the matter is now with the Coroner and we are respectful of the family's wishes at this time not to comment further."

The university was doing all it could to support police during their investigation, de la Rey said.

Specialist police officers were called in to help with the formal identification, which was ongoing, Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Johnson said.

Earlier, police were finishing a scene examination of the accommodation while a post-mortem was conducted last night.

Advertisement

A private security firm on campus had ordered media to leave the university earlier today.

"Police are working closely with the family and the University of Canterbury through this process," Johnson said.

"If anyone has information that may help police, please let us know by calling 105."

The university was limited in what information they could release while the police investigation continued, de la Rey said.

They would launch an independent investigation to identify how the situation occurred and what actions needed to be taken, she said.

Meanwhile, the minister voiced concerned today over the amount of time it took to find the young man's body.

"My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim. This must be an incredibly distressing time for them," Hipkins said.

"I have asked the Tertiary Education Commission to reach out to the university to offer any support.

"This tragedy raises a number of questions and I expect the university to conduct a thorough investigation."

Police would continue to make "a number of inquiries around what happened" to assist the Coroner, who will ultimately rule on the cause of death.

"Police are working closely with the family and the University of Canterbury through this process," Johnson said.

"If anyone has information that may help police, please let us know by calling 105."