'My whole future depends on it': International students in Windsor caught in college strike

As striking Ontario college faculty members vote on a contract offer a pair of international students protesting the work stoppage at the entrance of St. Clair College are worried their future is slipping away.

A pair of international students say the college strike has put their careers in jeopardy

Saurav Katara left his job with BMW in Germany to enroll in the International Business Administration program at St. Clair College in Windsor. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

As striking Ontario college faculty members vote on a contract offer a pair of international students protesting the work stoppage at the entrance of St. Clair College are worried their future is slipping away. 

Students have missed a months worth of classes while 12,000 college workers at 24 colleges across the province have been on strike over contract details.

"This is totally garbage for us," said Saurav Katara, who is enrolled in the International Business Management program. 

Katara, who is originally from India, moved to Windsor specifically for the program after completing his Master of Business Administration.

"I was working for BMW, I left my job, I came for this program specifically," said Katara. "My company asked me when you get off with this plan in December come back and join us again."

Saurav Katara said that this has been a difficult time for all students at St. Clair College and across the province. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

He's already booked a ticket to rejoin the company, but if the semester is delayed anymore he's worried it will creep into February and impact his job. 

"I was supposed to join a company back in Germany in February," said Katara, standing behind a row of students holding colourful signs protesting the college's contingency plans.

"If this strike goes for long I'm going to lose a lot of money, a lot of time."

Katara called the strike a loss for domestic and international students, specifically citing conversations he's had with friends who are single parents.

"If they have to be here on Christmas break it's going to be a very hard time for them," said Katara.

Future unclear

Nakkita Mongia stood by his side holding a sign asking people to think about international students during the strike.

"It's about opportunity lost," said Mongia, who is also enrolled in the same one-year program as Katara. 

"I have plans to move to another province but I can go there only when I complete this. If I can't complete this, I can't go," said Mongia, who expected her program to be completed at the end of this semester. 

A pair of international students at St. Clair College describe how the faculty strike has affected them. 0:36

"My whole future depends on it. If I miss the opportunity I waste my money, I waste my time."

There are roughly 40,000 international students enrolled at the colleges in Ontario.

St. Clair College boasted a record number of international students in 2015-2016 with 509 students enrolled at the school in the fall.