Covid vaccine passports: Students may need jabs for uni lectures or living in halls, No10 says

·3-min read
No10 said the Government was “looking at the scope for vaccine certification” when asked about the move  (PA Wire)
No10 said the Government was “looking at the scope for vaccine certification” when asked about the move (PA Wire)

Downing Street on Monday left open the prospect of requiring students to get jabbed to attend university lectures or live in halls of residence.

No10 said the Government was “looking at the scope for vaccine certification” when asked about the move which is likely to prove controversial.

Boris Johnson is reported to have suggested the mandatory vaccination for universities in order to drive up the rates of young people taking up the vaccine.

Education minister Vicky Ford on Monday morning repeatedly refused to rule out such a policy being introduced.

Asked whether compulsory jabs for access to university lectures in-person and halls of residence would happen, she initially told Sky News “no”, stressing the need to prioritise education.

But later she kept open the option, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Obviously, I can’t comment on things that haven’t been announced. But one does need to look at every practicality to make sure that we can get students back safely and make sure that we can continue to prioritise education.”

And she told Times Radio: “We don’t want to go back to a situation where large parts of education were closed to many young people and children, and a key part of doing that is having that double-vaccinated population.

“So I think we need to continue to encourage our young people to step forward, have the vaccination, and that is the way that they can have that freedom and confidence that they’ll be able to have that full university life.”

Asked about the proposal, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are still looking at the scope for vaccine certification.”

The Department for Education is understood to have concerns over the practicalities and legality of such a jabs scheme for universities which is believed to be at an early stage of being examined.

Students are also expected to take up the vaccine in large numbers.

The Times reported that the Prime Minister made the suggestion, subject to medical exemptions, during a virtual meeting from his isolation at Chequers.

But Robert Halfon, Conservative MP and chairman of the Commons Education Committee, branded the move as “wrong-headed”.

He added: “It’s like something out of Huxley’s Brave New World where people with vaccine passports will be engineered into social hierarchies - ie those who will be given a higher education and those who do not.

“Where does this stop? Do we fire apprentices who have not had the vaccine? Do we remove older students from FE (further education) colleges? Do we close down adult education courses where adults have not had the vaccine? I hope not.”

The row comes after England manager Gareth Southgate was recruited to help push up vaccination rates among young people.

A Universities UK spokesperson said: “Universities are already encouraging students to get vaccinated and not delay, and will continue working with government and local public health teams to promote uptake over the summer through targeted communications, and by setting up temporary ‘pop-up’ clinics at convenient locations.”

Read More

What are vaccine passports and do I need one?

What the papers say – July 25

Londoner’s Diary: Politicos party, with a wary eye on a tense summer

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting