A mediator with the Ministry of Labour has called the two sides in the college teachers' dispute back to the bargaining table.

The ministry says negotiations will resume Thursday.

The announcement came just a few hours after the College Employer Council asked the mediator help restart the talks. 

"This strike has gone on for too long. We need to end the strike and get our students and faculty back in the classroom. We can reach a settlement quickly and have classes start again early next week," said Sonia Del Missier, chair of the Colleges' bargaining team.

Del Missier added: "We will focus our efforts at the table and work very hard to reach a deal that ends the strike."

The president of Local 110 of the Ontario Public Services Employees Union, Darryl Bedford told CBC News "we have accepted the invitation and are returning to the bargaining table."

Classes for a half-million students have been cancelled since the strike began October 16

Outstanding issues include academic input into decision making and the ratio of full-time to part-time faculty members.