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Almost 1,200 students drop out after strike

Following the college faculty strike, nearly 1,200 Durham students dropped out due to the loss of nearly an entire semester.

Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Approximately 10 per cent of Durham College students decided to cut their losses after a faculty strike emptied classrooms for five weeks in October and November.

Durham College recently announced it is processing tuition refunds for 1,186 students who chose to withdraw from studies after the strike.

Last week, the government reported 25,700 students, roughly 10.3 per cent of those enrolled in Ontario’s 24 public colleges, elected to take refunds instead of continuing on with their year.

“Durham College, like other colleges, was committed to supporting students who didn’t feel they could complete their studies because of the duration of the strike,” Durham College President Don Lovisa said in a released statement. “Many students were looking to return for a fresh start and we are continuing to work with them to help them to be successful in their college education.”

Naqi Hyder, a Durham student and officer with Durham College Students Inc., the school’s student association, says the demands of an extended semester were too much for some.

“They felt like they needed so much time to come back, it was a lot of pressure for the students,” he says.

However, for Hyder, the fact the majority of students decided to forge ahead is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

“After the strike, there was a lot of positivity [on campus] and they were determined to finish. They deserve a lot of credit for it,” he says.

While he understands the frustration of students, having to personally deal with the issue, Hyder says they need to “look at the bigger goal.”

“It’s something we have to work on together to overcome.”

Hyder believes the optimism of students also served as a motivator to some faculty, who may have been unsatisfied with the outcome of their strike action.

Professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians at Ontario’s colleges walked off the job on Oct. 16, remaining on the picket lines until Nov. 19 when back-to-work legislation was passed at Queen’s Park.

Students who remained in their programs were eligible to apply for $500 in funding to help mitigate financial difficulties they may have experienced.

This ‘hardship fund’ was created by colleges from money that would have otherwise been spent during the strike.

It has not been announced how many students applied for the funds.