So now students need a vaccine passport to attend university? Stop patronising young people

·4-min read

This allegedly Conservative government has been patronising young people with the threat of coercive vaccine passports for over a week. Though I was open to vaccine passports at first, it’s now clear to me that this government is using them to target and mistreat young people. Again.

Since the beginning of this pandemic young people have been let down by the government. I personally lost about half of my university experience to lockdown and this pandemic. It’s ludicrous that students, who have sacrificed their teens and early 20s for this government’s Covid strategy, might now be locked out of lecture theatres. Has our education not suffered enough?

Remote learning has proved incredibly damaging. I was made to write a dissertation this year without ever meeting my tutor. I spent hours stuck in my bedroom on poorly connected Zoom calls learning very little. Locking unvaccinated students out of class will continue to harm the education of young people who have suffered so much already.

It’s clear to me that Boris Johnson’s vaccine passports are not part of a carefully thought out Covid strategy, but rather his emotional “raging” against young people. First he came for the nightclubs, punishing young people for wanting to have fun and enjoy life, now he has widened his scope, threatening universities. These two sites have been maliciously targeted by this government who need a scapegoat for their own personal failings.

I appreciate that only 60 per cent of under 30s have received their first jab. However, this “pin it on young people” strategy does little to actually solve the crisis at hand. Young people who want to get the vaccine are struggling to do so. They’re getting pinged, made to isolate, contracting Covid, made to wait months for a vaccine due to high demand. It’s not always our fault.

Instead of treating us like a problem, the government should start treating us like people and incentivise us to get the vaccine instead of punishing us for not getting it.

In fact, it remains unclear whether or not Johnson has the votes to push this policy through the House. Many in Westminster are suggesting vaccine passports are in fact an empty threat lauded over the heads of young people in order to force them into getting a jab. The government essentially plans to treat us like idiots while beating us with a stick.

However, not only are vaccine passports immoral, but at the moment they are also completely impractical. The government has yet to iron out the flaws in the NHS app, meaning that a vaccine pass would be a bureaucratic nightmare for universities. The NHS app is unable to recognise vaccines administered outside of England, including in Scotland and Wales. Will the approximately 500,000 international students be let into seminars and lecture halls, or will they yet again be punished by this government’s incompetence?

Additionally, new university students may not have yet turned 18 and therefore will not be able to get their vaccines until September/October. Will the government chastise certain students because they have late birthdays? These vaccine passport threats make eye-catching headlines but make little sense.

I feel I must make it clear that I completely support and commend this government’s vaccination programme. I had my first dose of Pfizer last month (as soon as I could) and I fully intend to get my second vaccine after eight weeks. I believe that everyone should get their vaccine as soon as they are able in order to fight this awful pandemic. However, these unlawful vaccine passports are targeted, wildly unfair, and downright condescending.

These passports, maliciously targeted at young people, threaten the civil liberties that make Britain the freedom-loving country so many of us are grateful to have grown up in. Young people deserve more than this Conservative government that has failed us time and again

Students shouldn’t need a jab or a passport to use a library, listen to a lecture, or partake in a seminar. Students have a right to receive the education that they’re paying for condition-free and this government needs to stop treating us young people like a pesky afterthought.

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