A specialist agricultural and veterinary nursing college has banned unvaccinated students from living on site, and warned they may have limited access to social events and clubs if they do not get a jab.
First reported in the Telegraph, Hartpury University and College in Gloucester is thought to be the first higher education institution in England to make vaccination mandatory for applicants.
Hartpury, which runs a number of equestrian courses, has also imposed the requirement on anyone wishing to keep a horse in its stables.
In a statement published on its website about Covid-19 measures in the 2021-2022 academic year, it said: “Our expectation is that all eligible students will engage and take up their vaccinations as soon as they are given the opportunity.
“In order to benefit from the most effective protection against Covid-19, it’s a mandatory requirement that all eligible students in on-site residential accommodation will engage in the Covid-19 vaccination programme and have both doses of the vaccine when made available to them.”
It continued: “It’s highly likely that eligible students who aren’t vaccinated will be limited in terms of access to student social events and venues on the Hartpury campus, amongst other limitations.
“This is in line with the national picture, where vaccination proof may be required in the autumn for entertainment/hospitality for all adults.”
Hartpury said the requirement does not apply to students who cannot have the vaccine due to medical exemptions.
In a “frequently asked questions” section of the website marked “Why should I have a Covid-19 vaccination?”, it says: “This isn’t just about you. Many of our family and friends have conditions preventing them from developing an effective immune response to vaccination.
“This makes them highly vulnerable to Covid-19. The vaccines help limit transmission of the virus and you’ll protect others by having your vaccine as soon as you’re eligible.”
Hartpury also emphasised that students who do not wish to engage in the vaccination programme will still be able to attend all on-site classes and lectures as normal.
A spokesman for the university said: “In order to benefit from the most effective protection against Covid-19, we require eligible students who wish to live in our campus residential accommodation to have the Covid-19 vaccinations, when these are made available to their age category.
“Students who are not intending to engage with the vaccination programme will still be able to attend all of their in-person teaching on campus, but will not be able to reside in Hartpury on-site accommodation (unless they are exempt due to medical reasons).
“We have taken this decision to protect our students, staff and wider communities, and offer all of our university and college students the best possible experience in this forthcoming academic year.
“The students’ union are in full support of our vaccination requirements for students who wish to live on campus. Feedback on our stance from parents and students, and from a record number of applicants, has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The Government has stopped short of demanding students in higher education get a jab, but is “strongly encouraging” all those who are eligible to get one.
In a recent statement, a spokesman for the Department for Education said: “The Government currently has no plans to require the use of the NHS Covid Pass for access to learning; however, universities and further education colleges are encouraged to promote the offer of the vaccine and should continue to conduct risk assessments for their particular circumstances.”
The Russell Group, which represents 24 universities in the UK, is also not calling for compulsory vaccination, but said it will “take every opportunity to encourage” students to get a jab.
A spokesman said: “We remain confident that the overwhelming majority of students in higher education will take up the opportunity to be vaccinated and we will continue to take every opportunity to encourage them to do so.
“Many of our universities are also hosting vaccination centres on their campuses to make it as easy as possible for students to get their jabs.”
But the National Union of Students (NUS) warned against using punitive measures to ensure students get vaccinated.
NUS vice president for higher education, Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, said the union understood universities had to be considerate of students who are immunocompromised or have not been able to access a dose.
But she added: “Students who are able to get jabbed who haven’t yet been vaccinated should be supported in accessing the vaccine by their university, and those who aren’t able to for medical reasons should be able to engage in in-person activities without feeling ostracised.
“This is a nuanced issue – of course it is important that students are able to get vaccinated, and we should be encouraging those who are eligible to do so.
“But this shouldn’t be done in a punitive way; rather, students should be equipped with the information, support and resources to be vaccinated on campus.”