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Striking college faculty rally in Toronto on Oct. 25, 2017.

Thomas Campean/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An arbitrator appointed to settle a contract dispute with Ontario college faculty that led to a five-week strike has awarded them a 7.75 per cent raise over four years.

The 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians were legislated back to work last month and outstanding issues were sent to binding mediation-arbitration.

The arbitrator's decision, released today, also includes new language on academic freedom, which had been the main outstanding issue between faculty and the colleges.

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The colleges say the new contract enshrines the academic freedom policies that already exist at most colleges and gives the same salary increase that they had offered before the strike.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the faculty, says the deal could have been reached at the bargaining table if the colleges had displayed "even the slightest concern for students and staff during negotiations."

Hundreds of thousands of students were kept from class during the strike, and about 27,500 of the roughly 250,000 full-time students decided to withdraw and receive a tuition refund rather than finishing their semester on a condensed timeline.

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