More than 11% of St. Clair College students withdraw following 5-week strike

More than 11% of St. Clair College students withdraw following 5-week strike

St. Clair College has received 1,232 withdrawal applications from students following a 5-week strike by faculty at colleges across Ontario this fall.

That's more than 11 per cent of the total enrolment at the college, according to numbers released by St. Clair in September.

Students had until Tuesday to apply for withdrawal while still being eligible for a full tuition refund.

"This translates into $3.6 million in annual tuition," according to Michael Silvaggi, registrar and associate vice president of student services.

Silvaggi said that figure is based on enrolment in two-semester programs. 

St. Clair College isn't sure how many students will re-enroll at the school next time there program is offered.

Province-wide withdrawal numbers are expected tomorrow.

Government response

Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews told CBC News in a statement that students have "borne the brunt of the labour dispute."

"While I am encouraged that it seems that the vast majority of students chose to stay and finish the semester," reads the statement from Matthews. "It was also important to us that those students who felt unable to complete the semester were also supported."

Matthews's statement made reference to the strike support fund created by Ontario colleges. She added that the province is closely monitoring the number of withdrawal applications and re-enrolment.

"Of course, each year some students withdraw from class for a variety of reasons, and the strike-related withdrawal rate must be evaluated within that context to determine the impact of the strike on overall withdrawals."

The registrar's office at St. Clair College says they normally experience about 200 to 300 withdrawals in a normal semester.