More than a thousand students in Northern Ontario colleges have opted to quit school this semester and get the tuition refund offered in the wake of the five-week faculty strike this fall.

As the dust settles on the longest Ontario college faculty strike in history, schools and the province are tallying up the casualties.

Every year, there are a number of students that dropout, and this year is no exception. However, northern colleges report the average attrition rate has doubled for the fall semester.

Due to the cancelled classes and five weeks without school, students were offered the opportunity to withdraw from their program and receive a tuition refund without penalty. This unprecedented option was appealing to many who found the prospect of a condensed school year too stressful.

Students who chose to withdraw from their program will receive a full refund on tuition and pro-rated return on residence and parking fees.

Here are the numbers of students who have taken the tuition refund option:

  • Cambrian College         610
  • Sault College                239
  • Northern College          140
  • College Boreal              126
  • Canadore College        125

Cambrian College officials say they hope many students will return, either to the winter semester or next fall, for a fresh start.

"We're certainly going to be following up with those students to see if they do want to return, either in the winter if possible or in September which is more likely depending on their program. So we just want to make sure that they succeed. We want to make sure that they haven't given up on a college education, and we certainly want to see them come back. “said Cambrian’s Communications Manager, Dan Lessard.

Cambrian College counsellors say they have been very busy with students accessing their support services.

"So we've got a whole team that can come together and help them plan out their work, and kind of break down their assignments, and help them study more efficiently. You know, we're here to help them get through these times." says Student Support Advisor, Roni Sue Cross.

While the college understands and respects the decision of students who choose to withdraw, administrators say those students will all have to re-apply, with no guarantee of re-admission.  Cambrian says tudents hoping to return September 2018 will have to apply by February 1st.