More than double the number of students have dropped out of the first semester at Georgian College this year over last.
About 1,100 students have chosen to withdraw from the college compared to 425 in fall 2016.
"About 700 more students withdrew from this fall semester compared to fall 2016. 700 students out of 11,000 have asked for a refund and we've granted that to them. Of those students about half are telling us they're going to reapply to Georgian for a future intake," said Georgian College President and CEO MaryLynn West-Moynes
"We know that 125 of them have already reapplied to our January start-up when 50 of 125 programs will be starting a new semester."
Faculty at Ontario's 24 community colleges went on a five-week strike from Oct. 16 to Nov.19 when the province passed back-to-work legislation.
"Losing one student is one too many but for the most part, from 11,000 students and given the length of the work stoppage. I think what happened is we've been successful with the other students through our counselling, financial aid and our semester completion strategy. So I'm feeling about as positive as you possibly can given the difficult circumstances that we've had to face this semester," said West-Moynes.
"We've still got 10,800 carrying on," she said.
West-Moynes said the college will follow up with the students who quit to offer counselling and see if the college can get the students enrolled again.
"I have been looking at system numbers and we may be just below average the number with withdrawals compared to other institutions," she said.
Students gave a variety of reasons for withdrawing.
Some said they felt disconnected after the five-week strike, according to the college president.
There is a set number of students the colleges always loses between first and second semester. Some students decided early that the course was not for them and took advantage of the refund. Others said they were struggling academically and felt it was wise to discontinue the program but try it again later.
As for refunds, Georgian College is not returning all fees.
"We made a decision to refund the graduation fee and the parking fee. The other fees - for use of the athletic centre, fees for textbooks and consumables that the students use - we felt that those fees had already started to be consumed so we felt it was fair to give them back a full refund on parking, a full refund on the gradation fee and that was our balanced approach," said West-Moynes.
The convocation/alumni fee is $84.03 and parking depends on the parking students purchased – monthly pass/annual. A one-month pass is $51.50 and a 12-month pass is $591.
West-Moynes says the college doesn't have a total dollar figure for the withdrawals at this time because the numbers could change before the start of the second semester.
Total applications to the strike relief fund to date are 470. Students have up until the end of April to apply.