Algonquin College strike affecting nursing students in joint university-college programs

Students in the University of Ottawa’s joint nursing program with Algonquin College are facing a great deal of frustration as their classes at Algonquin have been cancelled for five weeks now due to the Ontario colleges faculty strike.

In response to the U of O’s lack of action, the students have organized a rally on Monday, Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. on Tabaret lawn.

Matt Stewart is a third-year student in the program, meaning that the entirety of his studies take place at Algonquin, despite being a U of O student. In first-year, students take one class per semester at the college, more in second-year, and in third and fourth year all of their classes are taken at the college.

“Since the strike has started I’ve had zero classes,” Stewart said. “So far, we have missed 12 lectures, five labs, eight out of 12 clinical days, along with two midterms, an essay submission, and a math test.”

Stewart, who had just finished his maternity placement but missed almost the entirety of his paediatric placement due to the strike adds that “it’s a real let down because clinical is where you really learn and grow as a student nurse.”

The main frustration among the students lies in the U of O’s response to the colleges strike.

“The University of Ottawa  has done nothing,” said Stewart.   

The bachelor of science in nursing program has two streams at the university, with one being the collaborative stream with Algonquin, and the other the full U of O stream.

“The university has a full Faculty of Nursing professors that are not on strike, and they have done absolutely nothing for us, when we believe we could have been moved over in the interim and be taught by them while we wait for the strike to end.”

The students in the joint program pay tuition to the U of O and not to Algonquin College.

“The university should have set something up to ensure we do not fall behind, but they have not and have failed us,” Stewart said.  

Students in the program say that they have had a representative from the group compose and deliver a letter on their behalf to the U of O. However, the university told the students that a response would not be issued right away, but rather in a week’s time.

“This obviously doesn’t help us at all, and shows that the university has no intention on helping us succeed in our studies,” said Stewart. “The students of theirs affected by the strike are not their top priority right now, when we should be.”

Overall, it has been the stress and uncertainty that has been the hardest on the students.

“We’re all stressed out and worried as to what it will do to our year, hoping it doesn’t delay us graduating,” said Stewart. “If it delays our graduation, that will then delay when we can write our certifying exam to become a registered nurse, which then delays us starting our careers.”

According to the CBC, there are around 100 collaborative programs between universities and colleges across Ontario.

Neomie Duval, media relations manager at the U of O responded to these concerns with a statement on behalf of the university in an email to the Fulcrum.

“The University is aware of the students concerns and understands the impact that the suspended classes could have on the semester. The University is currently working on several options to limit the impact on the courses and placements of the students affected by the Ontario college strike.”

The U of O nursing students rally will be held on Monday, November 20th at 1 p.m. on the lawn of Tabaret Hall.