February 25, 1 p.m. EST
IFSA-Butler has resolved the issue of the 15 University of Canterbury students. We made arrangements for two students to attend the University of Auckland, while the other 13 will be attending the University of Otago. Both universities begin their semesters next week, so the students will not have missed any class time.
The two University of Auckland students flew to Auckland today and are working with the university's International Office to finalize registration. The 13 students who remained in Dunedin have all moved into their accommodation and are completing their course registration.
Our Canterbury Student Services Coordinator Alana Boyd and Manager of Student Services Amy Rutherford will remain with the students through the weekend.
February 23, 10 a.m. EST
IFSA-Butler staff in New Zealand evacuated the 15 University of Canterbury students and their belongings from Christchurch yesterday. The students were taken by bus to the city of Dunedin, about two hours south of Christchurch, where they are staying at a hotel. Our Canterbury Student Services Coordinator Alana Boyd and Manager of Student Services Amy Rutherford are both with the students.
IFSA-Butler is in the process of making arrangements for the students' enrollment and housing at one or two alternate universities in New Zealand. Amy and Alana will meet with the students to discuss issues such as course registration, housing and transportation to the new universities when arrangements are finalized. We hope to take the students to their new universities by the end of this week.
IFSA-Butler has also made arrangements for a counselor in Dunedin to speak to the students about the trauma of the earthquake and the constant aftershocks that followed.
Tuesday, February 22, 6:30 p.m. EST
We have been closely monitoring the aftermath of yesterday's earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and have made the decision to remove all 15 University of Canterbury students from Christchurch as soon as possible. Although the students are safe, we do not believe that the university or surrounding community will be ready to provide a normal study abroad experience for our students any time soon.
Our plan is that the University of Canterbury students will enroll in a different university within New Zealand. We have already been in contact with several of our affiliated New Zealand universities and hope to finalize these plans very quickly. We will also be in touch with parents and study abroad advisors to notify them of the change in university.
Our Canterbury Student Services Coordinator Alana Boyd met with the students earlier today to explain the situation and to request that the students pack up their belongings in preparation to leave the city. We hope to evacuate the students from Christchurch today and finalize new university plans within 36 hours.
Tuesday, February 22, 9 a.m. EST
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake has occurred outside Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifteen students are on the IFSA-Butler program at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch; all have been accounted for and are fine. Our Canterbury Student Services Coordinator Alana Boyd was with the students at the time.
The housing where our students live has been assessed by engineers and determined to be safe, although toilets are not functional. Power has been restored and the students have all been in touch with their parents.
However, the infrastructure of Canterbury has been severely damaged; water has been cut off and the sewage system has been damaged and not expected to be operational for some time. In addition, the campus is closed indefinitely while engineers assess damage to buildings and facilities. At least 65 people are reported to have been killed by the quake, though there were no deaths or serious injuries on the Canterbury campus.
IFSA-Butler is reviewing the situation and considering alternatives that will assure each student's safety and full academic credit for the semester. We will update students, parents and advisors of alternatives as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, our New Zealand Manager of Student Services, Amy Rutherford, has strongly urged IFSA-Butler students to remain in their housing and await instructions from Alana Boyd, the university or local officials.
Though Canterbury continues to experience continuous aftershocks, we want to reassure students and parents that area buildings are built to strict earthquake zone standards. In addition, Amy Rutherford is communicating with the students continually to offer reassurance, answer questions and to reiterate the extensive earthquake safety precautions that were covered in the IFSA-Butler orientation two weeks ago.
IFSA-Butler's other program locations in New Zealand were not affected by the earthquake.
Below are some websites with additional information:
New Zealand Civil Defence