Universities drop campus vaccination mandates

Most universities dropped their vaccination mandates months after introducing them.

New Zealand’s vaccine pass requirements and vaccination mandates for most sectors – including education – were scrapped on April 5.

The majority of universities have introduced vaccine requirements for their campuses and have reviewed them since the national system was scrapped.

The Union of New Zealand Student Associations is concerned that the inconsistency between providers is creating uncertainty for students and that immunocompromised students are being left behind.

Universities shared their updates on vaccine requirements online.

The University of Auckland has dropped its vaccination policy in line with the nationwide suppression.

There are exceptions for staff and students working with district health boards, working on Covid-19 research and those working in aged care.

Victoria University of Wellington’s vaccination mandate was halted on April 26 after the mid-term break.

The separate vaccination mandate for residence halls remains in place, for now, an email to students said.

Massey University has recommended that the vaccination be removed no later than June 1, with the consultation ending April 29.

The University of Otago will lift its vaccination mandate for most staff and students on May 2, except where a government health order is enforced and for certain staff working with vulnerable students or studying Covid-19.

My vaccine passes were no longer required at the University of Canterbury from April 8, but were still required in university accommodation, with providers reviewing policies and confirming changes before the start of the second term.

An updated review and risk assessment is currently being undertaken by the University of Waikato and the requirement remains in place until a decision is made.

Lincoln University’s vaccine requirement is still in place at this time and the review date has been moved forward from June to early May.

AUT never had its own on-campus vaccination mandate, but followed traffic light vaccination requirements.

NZUSA President Andrew Lessells fears some providers have withdrawn mandates without meaningful student consultation, while others are taking longer to consult.

It’s up to the government’s providers to understand their students best — which is true in some circumstances — but many aren’t good at consulting with students, he said.

Lessells said their primary concern, whether providers keep or drop mandates, is to ensure online delivery is available for students who are immunocompromised, have medical conditions or don’t feel safe to come to campus.

There have been inconsistencies between providers in this regard as well, he said.

“[Education providers] use phrases such as “in appropriate circumstances” and “in consultation with staff” and many phrases which I think just add uncertainty to students – they need a yes or a a clear no on whether they will be able to study online if they cannot come to campus.