Students might need to be vaccinated to live in halls

·2-min read
Photo credit: RichVintage
Photo credit: RichVintage

A Conservative minister has refused to rule out a policy on students needing compulsory jabs to attend lectures and live in halls of residence. It comes after The Times reported that Boris Johnson had suggested the policy because he's determined to increase vaccine uptake among young people.

Speaking on Sky news this Monday morning, Minister for Children and Families Vicky Ford was repeatedly asked whether the policy was being implemented. The Tory MP answered “no” when first pressed, then continued to affirm the need for education to be a top priority as we continue to emerge from lockdown.

Yet in following interviews, Ford did not outwardly rule out the policy. Talking on the BBC's Today Programme later on this morning, Ford said: “So 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.”

When asked whether compulsory vaccination was a possibility, she said: "We have always considered everything that we can do to make sure that all people are safe in education. The key thing as we know to keep transmission down is to make sure that people get their vaccination."

Photo credit: Maskot - Getty Images
Photo credit: Maskot - Getty Images

Ford then outlined the need for young people to get their vaccines on Times Radio: "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.”

According to The Times, The PM had suggested to ministers, during a meeting at Chequers last week, that students in higher and further education settings should get compulsory jabs, excluding those with certain medical exemptions. The relatively low vaccine uptake among young people has reportedly left the PM 'raging' and determined to apply pressure to students.

The policy is in a similar vein to the widely contested 'domestic vaccine passports', which is another push directed at getting young people vaccinated. From September, those hoping to attend nightclubs or crowded venues will need to be doubly vaccinated.

Photo credit: Luis Alvarez - Getty Images
Photo credit: Luis Alvarez - Getty Images

These moves aren't without criticism, even from inside the Conservative party. Tory chairman of the education select committee Robert Halfon said: “This is wrongheaded. 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 colleges? Do we close down adult education courses where adults have not had the vaccine? I hope not," the MP added.

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