Image Credit: Annie Watson
On 29 July, University of York students received an email from the Vice Chancellor, Charlie Jeffrey, outlining the University’s approach to the potential of vaccine passports being introduced in UK universities.
The email mentioned that the email was being sent due to students' questions and comments from the Prime minister and others.
This is in reference to the government refusing to rule out Covid vaccines becoming compulsory for university students to attend campus or enter halls of residence when asked for comment earlier this week.
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary has said that the decision will not officially be made until September, which could leave some universities with less than a week to implement any changes.
Consequently, the Vice Chancellor has implored both students and staff to receive the Covid vaccination when called up as “this will help to protect you and your university friends, and support us to keep campus open. It will also ensure you can access sports, music and social venues if the Government decides to introduce vaccine requirements.”
Whilst it was not specifically declared whether vaccines would be required on campus from September, the email stated that “our planned return to in-person teaching has been made possible by the success of the vaccine rollout in the UK.”
“That’s why we're currently asking our staff and students to get vaccinated as soon as they can.”
Young people who will soon start university and are within three months of turning 18 are now able to receive the vaccine and as the email clarifies the gap between first and second jabs has been reduced to eight weeks meaning it has become easier for students to receive both jabs before September.
The email also points out that, similar to the other Russell Group universities, vaccination clinics will be on campus during the Autumn Term and the University will invite any student who is not yet eligible for the vaccination.
However, many reject the idea of vaccination passports with the National Union of Students describing the government’s idea as “appalling” and they criticised the complete lack of consultation with universities and their students. The President of the National Union of Students told the BBC that “All the students I speak with are incredibly eager to get their vaccinations - if anything they would like them bringing forward so that they've had both doses before term begins."
The University and College Union agrees that “Students should be prioritised for vaccinations, to ensure as many as possible have the opportunity to be vaccinated by September” but calls the forced vaccinations “hugely discriminatory against those who are unable to be vaccinated, and international students.
They told The Independent that “Sadly, this looks and smells like a prime minister trying to pin the blame on students for not yet taking up a vaccine they haven’t been prioritised to receive.”