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UPEI students grow concerned as faculty strike enters second week

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Apprehension and uncertainty are emotions some students at the University of Prince Edward Island say they are feeling as a faculty strike goes into its second week.

Students are set to start exams in the middle of April and have already missed a week of class due to the job action.

“I have to work during the summer,” said student Nathan Wright. “[That’s] the starting date for my job. I’m kinda worried about if that’s going to work now.”

Students who spoke to CTV News said they worried about being ready for exams, impacts on their GPA, and a potential extension to the semester interfering with plans for work or travel this summer.

The issue is even more complex for international students, who are planning to go home right after exams end.

“I really hope the semester doesn’t get extended because a lot of international students will be flying out,” said student Ananya Bathak. “It’s just going to be difficult for us.”

Many have already booked their tickets and aren’t looking forward to the challenges and a potential hit to the wallet having to rebook on short notice would have.

However, the students CTV News spoke to were broadly sympathetic to the striking faculty.

The UPEI Faculty Association (UPEIFA) wants pay equity for contract academics, recovery of lost wages and protection against future inflation, among other things.

Decisions about whether the semester will be extended haven’t been made yet, but university officials say all options are on the table, including moving back the last day of classes or changing the exam schedule.

“All of these actually are the purview of senate at the university, and senate, of course, has faculty on it, so we wouldn’t be able to finalize those arrangements at this time,” said Greg Naterer, vice president of academic and research for UPEI.

This means the strike must end before students will know what is happening at the end of the year.

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