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The University of Melbourne to institute vaccine requirements on campus

by Guy Suttner

The University of Melbourne announced that students who wish to attend campus must be vaccinated. This begs the question, will Sydney’s universities follow?

The University of Melbourne will become one of the first universities in Australia to mandate vaccines for all students attending campus, subject to medical exemptions. Vice Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said that the decision was made to “minimise the risk of COVID-19 to our community”.  

Governments have already imposed vaccination requirements for some professions, including healthcare and aged care workers as well as police officers. Some businesses have also independently decided to mandate vaccines. This raises the critical question of whether other universities will follow.  

While vaccination rates for young people remain low, they are rising. 

 As of the 27th September 2021; 18.2% of 16-19s, 26.1% of 20-24s, and 30.2% of 25-29s are fully vaccinated across Australia. However, these figures are higher in NSW, with 31.9% of 16-19s, 39.16% of 20-24s, and 42.58% of 25-29s being fully vaccinated.  

With both UNSW and the University of Sydney announcing that all Term 3 classes would remain online, any vaccine mandate wouldn’t be necessary till 2022. By then, it is likely that all students would have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.  

Universities in other countries have also imposed vaccination requirements for students. In the United States, hundreds of colleges from Harvard to the University of Virginia have implemented such requirements. However, many large colleges, particularly in those with Republicans leaders who have displayed hostility or outright banned mandates, have not made similar requirements.  

It is likely UNSW will provide an update in the next few weeks confirming whether vaccination will be a requirement to attend campus in 2022.