Foreign language students scared off by earthquakes

4:30 pm on 4 April 2011

Schools and universities all around New Zealand may lose fee-paying international students to Australia because their parents are worried about earthquakes.

Fifty foreign nationals were killed when the Canterbury Television Building, which housed an English language school, collapsed in the Christchurch quake on 22 February.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation says many students have already left New Zealand and many more may not consider coming in future.

Policy research director Andrew Butcher says Dunedin is already feeling the pinch, with parents from far away countries not making the distinction between the two main cities in the South Island.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs says many students understandably need time out after the trauma and devastation of the quake.

Senior adviser Deb Lam says some have gone home to reassure their parents and have a break but feels many will return at Easter.

She says the Government, the Tertiary Commission and private education providers are now working together to encourage them back.

Ms Lam says there needs to be more marketing done regarding New Zealand, the location of its cities, and the fact that it is a generally safe country.

Dr Butcher also says New Zealand has usually been seen as safer than other countries in terms of crime but now parents will also be considering the earthquake risk.