“We aren’t ruling it out,” a senior government source tells Sky News, as it is reported that Boris Johnson is “pushing” the idea to increase vaccine uptake among young people.
University students could need to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus to attend lectures and stay in halls this coming academic year.
“We aren’t ruling it out,” a senior government source told Sky News about the prospect of mandating COVID-19 vaccination passports for universities.
And the prime minister’s spokesman told a Westminster briefing for journalists: “We are still looking at the scope for vaccination certifications.”
According to a report in The Times newspaper, Boris Johnson is said to be “pushing” the idea of vaccine passports for universities, although there would be some medical exemptions.
The prime minister is “raging” at low vaccine uptake among young people and wants to apply pressure to increase the numbers coming forward for a jab, the report added.
But asked by Kay Burley on Sky News if students would need to be fully-vaccinated to enjoy a normal university experience, education minister Vicky Ford replied: “No. We must make sure we continue to prioritise education.”
Ms Ford did say that having two jabs would “minimise disruption” for students as they would then not have to isolate if they are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus.
But the minister later appeared to contradict herself, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ministers will “look at every practicality to make sure that we can get students back safely and make sure that we can continue to prioritise education”.
And she told Times Radio: “We don’t want to go back to a situation where large parts of education were closed to many young people and children, and a key part of doing that is having that double-vaccinated population.
“So 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.”
Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who is chairman of the Education Select Committee, described the idea as “wrong-headed”.
“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,” he told The Times.