International students support vaccine requirements

Survey finds that seven in 10 would back universities that made Covid vaccinations a prerequisite

Seventy per cent of international students want universities to require students to have both doses of a Covid vaccine before travelling to the UK to study, a new study suggests.

A survey by QS Quacquarelli Symonds of more than 3,800 prospective and current students from 159 countries found that seven in 10 would back universities that made Covid vaccinations a prerequisite before travelling to the UK.

Over half surveyed (57%) said international students should be required to have a vaccine passport before travelling for the new term – and a similar percentage (52%) think universities should check students’ vaccine passports before allowing them on campus.

The survey findings come after The Sunday Times reported the prime minister is considering making vaccinations mandatory for university and further education students. At present, unvaccinated international students can access a vaccination once moved to the UK after registering with a local general practice.

According to the QS survey, 56% of international students think the UK is “becoming a more attractive place to study” because of the vaccine rollout. A QS survey conducted earlier in the year found that 47% of prospective international students were interested in studying at universities in the UK following positive global coverage of the UK vaccination program.

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
– Universities UK spokesperson

The University and College Union wants students prioritised for vaccinations by governments in the UK but is against making them mandatory, arguing it discriminates against those that cannot take a vaccine and international students. General secretary Jo Grady accused the government of chasing headlines and urged ministers to work “with universities and NHS providers to enable and sensitively encourage student vaccination without resorting to compulsion”. The government is working with Ucas to engage with new UK-domiciled HE entrants –  and universities are to explain how international students can access vaccines on arrival.

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.”

Mandatory vaccinations for HE and FE students is opposed by Robert Halfon, the chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, who told The Times the notion was “like something out of Huxley’s Brave New World”.

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer told LBC he would would “look carefully” at the government plan on vaccine passports, should one materialise, adding he opposed their use “on an everyday basis for access to critical things like health, dentistry, food, etc.” Angela Rayner, the party deputy leader, said government plans for vaccine passports are “unworkable”, warning “bureaucracy shouldn’t fall on businesses”.


Read more: Masks on campus, free PCR tests and prioritise vaccines for students, UCU demands

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