NZ earthquake survivors embrace university experience
Thursday, 19 May 2011
Australia's Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator the Hon. Chris Evans, and Finance Minister, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, today shared a barbecue lunch with some of the 170 New Zealand students who have called the University of Adelaide home for the past few months.
The students have been accommodated by the University and local community following the 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch on 22 February this year, which damaged some of the University of Canterbury's main buildings.
The first and second year undergraduate students studying Arts, Science, Commerce and Marketing are part of an innovative program put together by the university to help them continue their studies in a safe and supportive environment.
"The local community has really stepped up generously to welcome the students," Senator Evans said. "I'd like to thank the community and the University of Adelaide which I'm told had just six days to plan accommodation and course guidance for the students. The efforts of the staff and the locals highlight Australians' genuine commitment to community in times of need.
"These students went through a dramatic ordeal during the Christchurch earthquake, and this warm gesture shows the close and enduring ties between our two countries."
Professor James McWha, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, said the South Australian community had warmly welcomed the students who are now busily engaged in their studies.
"The students have settled in very well to their academic program and life in Adelaide, especially considering so many are just starting their first year of university," Professor McWha said.
"They are enjoying the opportunity to explore the city and have managed to fit in numerous activities between classes, including the Clipsal V8 car race, Australian Football League game, Rugby Sevens match, an Adelaide Youth Orchestra concert and a guided tour of Parliament House, joining members of Parliament for morning tea.
"One of the students representing the University of Canterbury laid a memorial wreath at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service. It was a significant occasion that reflected the enduring bond between Australia and New Zealand, and in particular the sister cities of Adelaide and Christchurch, in times of great adversity."
Senator Evans said the students from the University of Canterbury had been able to continue their studies without major interruption.
Under the program, students are not charged any tuition fees by the University of Adelaide and are studying under the University of Canterbury's student exchange and study aboard program.
"The students have been staying on campus and with staff and students on a home stay arrangement which has helped to lower the costs," Senator Evans said.
"This is a great example of the enduring connection between Australia and New Zealand. On behalf of the Australian people, the Gillard Government made a $5 million donation to help with the earthquake recovery effort and the staff and students at the University of Adelaide have demonstrated warm hospitality to our Kiwi cousins."
The New Zealand students are due to fly home after they sit exams at the end of the semester.