The provincial government says the release of the number of students seeking a tuition refund after a five-week-long strike cancelled classes at Ontario’s colleges could be delayed as much as a week.

Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews says the government has received the figures from the province’s 24 colleges, but is just now compiling them for release.

The deadline for students to apply for a refund was December 5 and the government had originally expected to release the figures today.

Matthews says preliminary data suggests the “vast majority” of students have chosen to stick with their programs and finish the extended semester.

The government ended the strike in November with back-to-work legislation passed in a rare weekend sitting at Queen’s Park.

At Northern College, President Fred Gibbons says the rate is “slightly higher than I had hoped.”

Gibbons says they are still processing some of the final numbers, but anticipates about 140 students will have dropped out.

He says there is always concern when a student drops out and there’s no guarantee that they’ll come back.

“Generally speaking as a principle, postponing studies is not a good thing to do,” he said, “Other things can intervene and distract you from returning to school so I think there’s some risk there for us and also for the students as well.”

As part of the college’s plan, Gibbons adds they’ve put in additional resources to help students who may be struggling.

He says the drop out numbers coming out across the province are rather large and quite alarming.

“Being a small college, every single student counts for us,” Gibbons says, encouraging anyone who is new or returning in September 2018 to apply now.

(With files from The Canadian Press)

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