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Omar Turk, 25, an MBA/MSCIB international student from Lebabon, stands on the deserted campus at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC, on Saturday.

Deddeda Stemler for The Globe and Mail/Deddeda Stemler for The Globe and Mail

Vancouver Island University and its faculty association have reached a settlement, allowing classes to resume Tuesday, the university said in a release issued late Sunday.

The university and faculty association negotiated through the weekend, aiming to reach a deal before the end of Monday - a deadline the university had set before they start granting students refunds on request.

The university said the semester will be completed by April 29, and the summer session is to run as scheduled.

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Talks had resumed Friday, after having broken off Thursday, between the university and the Vancouver Island University Faculty Association. The university had set Monday as the deadline for a decision on whether to extend the semester - saying that if the strike lasted beyond that date, it would become more difficult to salvage the semester given students' work and travel commitments.

The university and the faculty association were at loggerheads over several issues, including job security. Almost 20,000 VIU students have been out of classes since the strike began.

Dan McDonald, the faculty association president, had said Sunday that talks could run through the night, but that the mood was optimistic. "Both sides are hopeful," he said.

The VIU did not return a call Sunday seeking comment. The school had said that if the strike were to continue past Monday, tuition refunds would be granted on request.

Students rallied in Nanaimo on Friday to talk about their concerns about potentially losing a semester, and the financial and personal consequences of the strike. International students have been particularly hard-hit.

Omar Turk, an MBA student who hails from Lebanon, said he may have to head back to his home country rather than seek employment in Canada after graduation, as he had hoped. "We paid $10,000 before we even came here and saw the university," said Mr. Turk, who shares accommodation with two other international MBA students. "We put so much trust in the university because it's a really competitive program, everyone is applying from all over the world."

He said VIU's international reputation could be tarnished.

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In a statement Friday, the VIU students' union said it supported the faculty. "Since 2001, funding to VIU and other post-secondary institutions in B.C. has been reduced by more than 15 per cent per student," the students' group said. "This reduction has meant that VIU has provided service to more students with less funding, meaning more work for faculty, staff and administrators and less service and course selection for students."

VIU has its main campus in Nanaimo and also offers classes in Cowichan, Parksville-Qualicum and Powell River.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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