The College Employer Council said Thursday it is ready to resume talks with the union representing faculty at Ontario's 24 colleges.

Both sides are looking at a strike deadline set by the union for early Monday morning. A strike would mean cancelled classes across Ontario.

"The colleges never left bargaining and we are willing to resume talks that discuss our final offer," said Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council in statement to CBC Thursday.

The council said the union representing staff, OPSEU, rejected its "final" offer on Tuesday. No formal talks have taken place since.

The president of OPSEU Local 110 representing faculty at Fanshawe College, Darryl Bedford, said earlier reports that the council had abandoned negotiations were incorrect.

"We thought that the employer had walked away from the table, but there was a message that had come out at one of the colleges, that they hadn't."

Still, Bedford called Tuesday's offer a "huge step backwards" from the employer's previous position. 

Faculty are set to walk off the job on Monday if the two sides can't reach an agreement. One of the key issues is the status and pay for part-time professors. 

At London's Fanshawe College, VP of Student Services Michele Beaudoin said classes will be cancelled for its 43,000 students if the strike goes ahead, although most student services will continue to operate as usual.

Fanshawe administration sent students an e-mail about the situation on Wednesday.  

Fanshawe College letter to students

The college provided an update to students as the strike deadline looms (Fanshawe College )

Bedford remained hopeful the two sides can reach a deal.

"We're hoping to get back [to talks]," he said. "The deadline is there. We're prepared to work right up to the deadline and beyond if we have to. We would like to see a deal get done."

With files from Rebecca Zandbergen