A student group at McGill University says it will continue to pressure the school to cut financial ties with companies that do business in Israel, despite the failure of a ratification vote in support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement.

The McGill BDS Action Network advocates for political and economic measures against Israel in a bid to promote self-determination for Palestinians and the return of Arab lands.

The BDS movement has its roots in South Africa where sanctions in the 1980s led to the fall of the apartheid regime.

Students attending a recent general assembly of the Students' Society of McGill University approved a motion calling on McGill to divest itself of investments linked to the military or the building of Israeli settlements.

But the vote was overturned by a margin of 2,819 to 2,119 in an online ratification vote.

Despite the loss, the McGill BDS Action Network says it is encouraged by the result.

"There's definitely increasing support on campus and increasing conversations happening around Palestine and the BDS movement," said Melis Çağan from the McGill BDS Action Network.

She says McGill University continues to do business with three companies, which her group says promote the military, and the building of Israeli settlements.

"We just want to keep the momentum going and McGill is still invested in those companies," said Çağan. "So we'll keep doing what we're doing."

According to Çağan, the group recently received support in the form of an open letter signed by more than 20 McGill professors.

In a statement, the McGill's principal, Suzanne Fortier, says the university opposes the BDS movement.

The statement says the movement "flies in the face of the tolerance and respect we cherish as values fundamental to a university" and "it proposes actions that are contrary to the principles of academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness."