The University of New Brunswick senate has approved the cancellation of March break this year as a way to make up time lost to a three-week faculty strike in January.

UNB administration had recommended the cancellation of the break, also known as Reading Week, and extending the school year until April 17 to reduce lost class time.

The prospect of cancelling the March break led to a backlash from students. Hundreds of people petitioned against the idea.

However, in a meeting Friday morning, the senate approved the cancellation of the break.

The senate also instituted a reading day for students before the start of exams.

Meanwhile, it was announced late Thursday by the university's board of governors that UNB students will receive a financial credit from the university in recognition of the "hardships and inconvenience" to students because of the strike.

The money for the students will come from the net savings the university realized during the strike.

"The university board and administration feel strongly that there should be no financial benefit to the university as a result of the labour disruption, and accordingly will be distributing any net savings directly to our students," reads to a statement signed by board chair Kathryn McCain, president Eddy Campbell and three student representatives on the board of governors.

Kurtis Gallant

Full-time students at UNB like Kurtis Gallant will receive a financial credit of more than $200 from the university because of the faculty strike. (CBC)

The exact amounts and details have not been determined. But the university estimates that full-time students will receive a lump sum credit on their account of more than $200. Part-time students will receive a lesser amount.

It is expected the student accounts will be credited in late March.

About 550 full-time faculty and librarians walked off the job Jan. 13 in a legal strike with financial compensation being the central issue in the dispute.

A deal was reached with the help of a mediator and announced on Jan. 30. It called for a salary increase of 2.5 per cent in each of the first two years, with any increase in the third year to be determined through an arbitration process that is to begin within the next six months.

At the outset of the strike, the university administration was offering a pay increase of 9.5 per cent over four years. The Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers was seeking an increase of about 25 per cent over that time to bring salary levels in line with universities of similar size.

The new agreement does include language that compares UNB to other similar institutions.

The AUNBT announced Thursday that its members had ratified the tentative agreement, with 90 per cent of those who voted giving their approval.