Study visas for thousands of foreign students are expiring, and many are preparing to leave the country.
Official figures show half of the 40,000 international students in New Zealand at the middle of January have study visas that expire by the end of March.
The Crown agency charged with attracting foreign learners, Education New Zealand, expects up to 40 per cent of those will renew their visas and continue studying.
If that happens, it says schools and tertiary institutions will start the year with between 25,000 and 30,000 foreign students, when under normal circumstances the figure is closer to 100,000.
In late January, Universities New Zealand director Chris Whelan said the fall in numbers would cause difficult financial decisions at universities.
Schools International Education Business Association chairman Patrick Walsh said without extra government funding schools would have to lay off staff.
Meanwhile, English New Zealand chairman Darren Conway said English language schools were now down to a fraction of their normal enrolments.
Emergency government funding would help some schools survive until June, but they needed to know as soon as possible what the Government was planning to do for the remainder of the year, Conway said.